Fundraising platform enables direct giving

by Eric Ginsburg

The United Arts Council’s approach to fundraising just gotturned on its head. Normally donors give money to the umbrellagroup and it is distributed to projects throughout GuilfordCounty. With the launch of a new fundraising website, Power2 Give, benefactors can give directly to the things groups really need: acurtain for dance recitals, a Genie super-lift for heavy artwork, supplies forDia de los Muertos and PA system for Triad Stage.

Not that supporters of the arts couldn’t give directly to an organizationbefore, but the website — which in many ways resembles Kickstarter —lists 23 unique projects from a range of groups that likely couldn’t fi nd themoney somewhere else. Council President Tom Philion told the crowdat the public launch for the site they expect to attract new and youngerdonors. And they already have.“Those gifts aren’t cannibalizing others gifts, these are new donorsmostly,” Philion said.

Before the launch event, around $5,000 had already been donated toprojects listed on the site, which currently has four participating cities andareas, including Charlotte and soon Winston-Salem. Thanks to a $10,000matching gift from Wells Fargo, those $5,000 in donations doubled.“We want to be part of promoting the long-term economic success ofour communities and quality of life,” Wells Fargo spokesperson ClarenceMcDonald 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 beable to up their game.Bel Canto, for example, still uses a decade-old computer, and to demonstratehow much of a clunker it is, they posted a video showing how long ittakes to start up: seven or eight minutes.

With a long line and an often twominutetransaction time between ticket purchases, the archaic machineryjust won’t do.It’s this sort of project that Power 2 Give is designed for — those thatwould be left behind in traditional giving, fundraising or grants, the coststhat fi nancially strapped arts groups would be expected to eat as part of anoperating budget.Two projects reached completion within three days of the launch. BelCanto will now be able to replace its old computer, and the CommunityTheatre of Greensboro’s hope of a three-month partnership with the countyschools to produce The Music Man Jr. will become a reality.Three of the projects are more than 50 percent funded, including a calligraphyclass 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 thesmaller budget calligraphy project, hit 89 percent funding three days afterthe launch event. Only $363 was left towards its $3,349 goal to replace 701fl orescent bulbs on the marquis with energy-saving incandescent ones.Similar to Kickstarter, some of the organizations offer tokens of appreciationfor donations, but unlike the popular fundraising site, groups receivethe 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 workwith groups to come up with the difference between funds raised and themoney needed if there was a gap, adding that the council was alreadyhelping groups make their projects more accessible and attractive to donorsthrough assistance like borrowing video cameras.

The site is useful, Berry said, because in addition to encouraging somenecessary friendly competition, the untapped donors who will — and are— supporting such projects want to give to something directly, and theyaren’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 toleverage corporate matching funds that groups wouldn’t be able to alone,all of the arts groups stand to benefi t

wanna go?

Visit the Power2Give website at