The United Arts Council’s approach to fundraising just got turned on its head. Normally donors give money to the umbrella group and it is distributed to projects throughout Guilford County. With the launch of a new fundraising website, Power 2 Give, benefactors can give directly to the things groups really need: a curtain for dance recitals, a Genie super-lift for heavy artwork, supplies for Dia de los Muertos and PA system for Triad Stage.
Not that supporters of the arts couldn’t give directly to an organization
before, but the website — which in many ways resembles Kickstarter —
lists 23 unique projects from a range of groups that likely couldn’t fi nd the
money somewhere else. Council President Tom Philion told the crowd
at the public launch for the site they expect to attract new and younger
donors. And they already have.
“Those gifts aren’t cannibalizing others gifts, these are new donors
mostly,” Philion said.
Before the launch event, around $5,000 had already been donated to
projects listed on the site, which currently has four participating cities and
areas, including Charlotte and soon Winston-Salem. Thanks to a $10,000
matching gift from Wells Fargo, those $5,000 in donations doubled.
“We want to be part of promoting the long-term economic success of
our communities and quality of life,” Wells Fargo spokesperson Clarence
McDonald said at the opening event.
While comparing Charlotte and Greensboro might not be appropriate,
about $250,000 was raised for the arts in the fi rst eight weeks of the site.
With even a fraction of that success, arts groups in Greensboro would be
able to up their game.
Bel Canto, for example, still uses a decade-old computer, and to demonstrate
how much of a clunker it is, they posted a video showing how long it
takes to start up: seven or eight minutes.
With a long line and an often twominute
transaction time between ticket purchases, the archaic machinery
just won’t do.
It’s this sort of project that Power 2 Give is designed for — those that
would be left behind in traditional giving, fundraising or grants, the costs
that fi nancially strapped arts groups would be expected to eat as part of an
Two projects reached completion within three days of the launch. Bel
Canto will now be able to replace its old computer, and the Community
Theatre of Greensboro’s hope of a three-month partnership with the county
schools to produce The Music Man Jr. will become a reality.
Three of the projects are more than 50 percent funded, including a calligraphy
class by Art Quest that only needs $192 more to reach its goal.
The Carolina Theatre, which is trying to raise fi ve times as much as the
smaller budget calligraphy project, hit 89 percent funding three days after
the launch event. Only $363 was left towards its $3,349 goal to replace 701
fl orescent bulbs on the marquis with energy-saving incandescent ones.
Similar to Kickstarter, some of the organizations offer tokens of appreciation
for donations, but unlike the popular fundraising site, groups receive
the money even if they don’t reach their goal after 90 days on the site.
Chip Berry with the United Arts Council said they would try and work
with groups to come up with the difference between funds raised and the
money needed if there was a gap, adding that the council was already
helping groups make their projects more accessible and attractive to donors
through assistance like borrowing video cameras.
The site is useful, Berry said, because in addition to encouraging some necessary friendly competition, the untapped donors who will — and are — supporting such projects want to give to something directly, and they aren’t doing it as end-of-the-year giving but in smaller chunks year-round. With a platform geared towards such supporters, and with the ability to leverage corporate matching funds that groups wouldn’t be able to alone, all of the arts groups stand to benefi t
Visit the Power2Give website at power2give.org/Greensboro/Project/ProjectListing.