For the first time since 2007, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Arts & Science Council has exceeded its annual fund-raising goal by a significant amount.
On Friday, the ASC announced it raised $9 million this year, exceeding its $8.2 million goal by 10 percent. This year’s goal was 6 percent lower than last year’s, reflecting the general downward spiral in Charlotte philanthropy since the recession.
Last year, the organization set an $8.7 million target, but pledges fell short by $300,000.
This year’s campaign had a nearly $500,000 shortfall in unrestricted gifts, which traditionally go to overall operations of groups the ASC serves.
Robert Bush, interim ASC president, said there will be about a 4 percent cut in operating grants to organizations, but much of that will be made up by restricted grants aimed at educational programs. For example, after Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools budget cuts during the recession, corporations and individual donors began aiming more money at programs that restore field trips or bring arts, history or science programs to county schools.
“We’ve got good stuff to report,” Bush said Friday. “We’re very happy.”
Individual donations fall
Bush said this year’s campaign saw steady support from corporations and foundations, but individual donors continued to decline. That will be one area the ASC will focus on during next year’s campaign, he said.
Though the drive represented an increase in overall donations, it was still far short of ASC campaigns in the past. This year’s drive represents a 25 percent drop over 2002’s benchmark of $12 million.
Leaders in the arts community have blamed the recession, downturns in workplace donations and other trends for the erosion.
A cross-community task force launched in June to look for long-range solutions to fund the arts. Members have begun studying strategies used in other cities and are expected to make recommendations in January.
ASC campaign money is primarily raised through individuals giving through the workplace along with corporate and foundation gifts.
In July, ASC distributed nearly $7 million in grants to 23 arts, science and history organizations. Major beneficiaries included the Mint Museum, which received $1 million, and Discovery Place, which got $850,000.
This year’s campaign was co-chaired by ASC chair Linda Lockman-Brooks and ASC board member Kevin Patterson; Jim and Mary Lou Babb were honorary chairpersons.
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