By Bernie Petit
What does a million dollars mean to the cultural community?
It means the Chamber Ensemble of the Charlotte Children’s Choir made good on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform at the White House.
It means the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art continued an arts program for homeless adults and families.
It means students from Northwest School of the Arts traveled to Nebraska to perform at the International Thespian Festival.
And it means power2give.org, the online fundraising platform for the arts in 18 communities across the U.S., works. The site, created by the Arts & Science Council and launched in August 2011, has surpassed the $1 million mark in funding for Charlotte-Mecklenburg projects.
“For a brand new initiative that’s not even two years old to have created or stimulated over a million dollars of investment back into the cultural sector, I think it’s meaningful, it’s measurable and it’s really just an opportunity to pause and celebrate and then start looking at how we are going to continue to raise the next million,” said Laura Belcher, national director of power2give.org.
Nationally, the crowdfunding site has raised more than $3.1 million by connecting donors directly to the arts and cultural projects they care about. Locally, more than 3,300 individual donations and matching gifts from corporations and foundations have allowed for 300-plus projects to be completed.
Visitors to power2give.org can search for projects by choosing a cultural organization or category. Once they find one that matches their interests, they can give to it directly through the website.
The direct giving component has resonated with donors that may not have given otherwise, Belcher said. Forty-four percent of those who sponsor projects on power2give.org are new donors.
“Because the site is designed for project fundraising, it articulates where the donor’s funds are going to go in a very intimate way,” she said.
Almost 70 local organizations have posted projects on power2give, signifying more groups are eager to find innovative ways to expand their reach, Belcher added.
“It is a new way of articulating and storytelling of the impact of the arts in the community,” she said. “It’s appealing to donors, both those who have supported the cultural sector for a long time and to new donors.”