April 23, 2014

Website aims to boost giving to culture


Scott Provancher

Scott Provancher

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Research last year by the Arts & Science Council found only about 10 percent of local cultural patrons make charitable contributions to local cultural groups.

That missed opportunity is compounded by the fact that the Council, which raises money for cultural groups through its annual fund drive, turns down many of the project-funded applications it gets from hundreds of cultural groups because it lacks the funds to support all of them.

Converting cultural patrons into donors, and generating more support for cultural groups, are the goals of a new website the council will launch in August.

The site, www.power2give.org, aims to help connect donors and cultural groups that need funds for projects with price-tags of up to $10,000.

"It's really encouraging more modest givers to give to projects," says Scott Provancher, president of the Arts & Science Council.

Developed by ettain group at a cost of about $100,000, the new website will let cultural groups post information about their projects for free and then use their own communications tools like email, Facebook and Twitter to refer constituents to power2give.

Donors, in turn, can make online donations at power2give, which will charge a 12 percent fee to cover credit-card processing and the hosting and marketing of the site.

The Arts & Science Council, in addition to promoting featured projects to its own constituents, will seek funds from corporations, foundations and individuals to match online donations.

The website also will offer electronic gift cards that visitors can buy for friends, colleagues or family, who in turn can use the cards to make donations to projects featured on the site.

The Arts & Science Council also will encourage employers to promote giving by buying blocs of gift cards to share with employees at occasions such as anniversaries, holidays or special events.

"We'll be working to fuel the system with matching dollars, and promoting active philanthropy through the site," says Laura Belcher, senior vice president and chief financial and operations officer at the Arts & Science Council.

The Arts & Science Council expects to have enlisted 50 to 60 projects that will be featured on the new site by its launch, and had hosted workshops for cultural organizations to learn about the site.

The workshops offered ideas on how cultural groups can market their projects, as well as an electronic toolkit that includes marketing templates, logos, graphics and text for email messages nonprofits can use in promoting their projects at power2give.org.

The workshops also provided training on communicating with donors.

Every donor who makes an online gift will receive an automatic electronic thank-you note from the Arts & Science Council, as well as a personal thank-you from the organization that gets the gift.

The council also is encouraging funded organizations to use the website as part of a strategy to cultivate and "steward" donors by following up with them once the project they help fund is completed.

"Where the relationship and communication will happen is between the donor and the organization, in essence being able to report back and talk about the outcome," says Provancher, who expects the site will generate $300,000 to $400,000 in support its first year.

"It's a tool the Arts & Science Council doesn't have right now," he says, "and it's capital that's not necessarily being infused in the cultural sector."

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