Finalist: Arts & Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenburg

Donations through power2give.org made it possible for more than 10,000 students to visit Discovery Place, Charlotte’s preeminent science education center.
Donations through power2give.org made it possible for more than 10,000 students to visit Discovery Place, Charlotte’s preeminent science education center.

Power2Give.org: A new model for online giving

Charlotte, North Carolina, a city heavily reliant on the banking industry, was hit hard by the economic downturn in 2008.  The downturn was especially hard on individual giving, primarily through the workplace, and projections showed that it would never return to the level it once was.

The reason is simple – donor habits have changed in the new economy.  There is an increase in online giving.  Smaller, more frequent gifts are being made.  People want to know where their money is going, and the impact they will make.  These new trends, combined with the persistent struggle to engage the 85-90% of non-donating arts patrons, made it apparent to the Arts & Science Council (ASC) that fundraising for arts and culture in Charlotte had to change.

In response to this mounting challenge, the ASC developed a new way to connect donors to specific arts and cultural projects in need of funding through their online giving site, power2give.org.

A view of the power2give website.
A view of the power2give website.

Learning from existing models

After researching existing online giving sites (like Kickstarter and DonorsChoose), ASC realized that few of them were being adopted by arts and cultural non-profits.  In response, ASC worked with a local developer to build power2give.org into a page that is user-friendly for both potential donors and cultural partners who use it as a fundraising tool.  Marketing tools and best practices are provided on each partner’s “dashboard” so they may see which projects become fully funded.  Matching and challenge grants are sought to incentivize compelling projects and individual giving.  Visitors can also give the “gift of giving” by purchasing gift cards.

Customizing for our target audience

With a project cap of $10,000, power2give.org is not designed for the “major giver,” but rather the modest or new donor — one who may be passionate about an organization or simply enjoyed a performance or exhibition and wants to show their appreciation.  Users are able to sort by interest, organization or keyword to find projects that are of most interest, and project profiles include a breakdown of costs and benefits offered.  Donations may be made by credit card or gift card, and each gift moves the green “temperature gauge” further towards the goal.

Funding received through power2give.org assisted in sending Charlotte Children’s Choir to Washington, D.C., to perform at the White House.
Funding received through power2give.org assisted in sending Charlotte Children’s Choir to Washington, D.C., to perform at the White House.

Partnering with communities outside of Charlotte

Soon after the website’s launch on August 29, 2011, other communities struggling with arts funding began contacting ASC to see if they could also use power2give.org.  To date, nine other communities –including Miami, Florida; Kentucky/Southern Indiana; Greensboro, North Carolina; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Dane County, Wisconsin; Houston, Texas; and Atlanta, Georgia – have given their constituencies the power to give, with other communities joining in the coming months.

Altering the fundraising landscape

Collectively, over $1.6 million has been raised using power2give.org, which has provided funding for more than 700 projects.  Music lessons, theater equipment, and cultural education programs have been made possible through this online tool – but power2give.org has also altered the fundraising landscape by engaging new donors.

About the Arts & Science Council

Founded in 1958, the Arts & Science Council (ASC) is the local arts agency for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area in North Carolina.  Its mission is to build appreciation, participation and support for the arts, science, history and heritage throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

 

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About

Laura Sharpe, Guest ContributorAfter more than 10 years in the events industry, Laura Sharpe joined the Arts & Science Council in early 2012 as Associate Director of Community Giving. A major component of her role is assisting Charlotte non-profit organizations in having their arts and cultural projects funded through the online giving platform.