Why Do I Have To Call Dun & Bradstreet To Apply For A State Arts Grant?

As we move further into the new year, many grant deadlines are starting to creep up en masse upon arts organizations. As you are filling out all the mandatory fields in your grant application, you may be wondering why you have to have a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number in addition to your Employer Id Number (EIN), especially since they are both the same number of digits.

You may also be wondering why a commercial data firm like Dun and Bradstreet gets to dole out these numbers, instead of a governmental entity. Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I did provide a good number of them in an ArtsHacker post on the subject a couple weeks ago.

As I write in that post,

The simple answer is that your EIN is associated with your IRS tax records and the DUNS number is associated with your business credit score.


One reason the DUNS numbers are separate from EIN is that a DUNS number is tied to a physical address. This makes sense in the commercial for-profit realm since a branch of a company in California may have better credit than one in Florida, but there aren’t many non-profits that are so large that they have a single EIN but require different DUNS numbers.

Learning that your DUNS number is associated with your credit score may be cause for concern—how many non-profits are going to have a great credit score after all?

Given that overhead ratio has been used as a measure of effectiveness for non-profits, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that someone is going to get the bright idea that credit score is a good shorthand for deciding whether a non-profit is being run well. This would be a really bad idea since the standards used to assess credit worthiness of a for-profit entity are inappropriate for non-profits.

But you know, non-profits should be run more like a business right?

In any case, if you would like to know a little more about DUNS numbers and how to get one for your organization, (or see if you already have one), check out my ArtsHacker post.

What Is A DUNS Number And Why Do I Need It?

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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