In the second recent move to turn more Charlotteans into arts backers, the Leon Levine Foundation is making a $150,000 challenge grant to support arts-education projects for young people.
The dollar-for-dollar match could yield a total of $300,000 to help bring the arts, science and history to children. The grant, announced Monday, applies to dozens of projects being listed on Power2give.org, a fundraising site created by the Arts & Science Council.
“We believe exposure to the arts and culture is a critical enhancement to a child’s education,” said Thomas Lawrence, the foundation’s executive director. The foundation thinks the grant “will have a double impact” by drawing attention to Power2give, which the ASC launched in August 2011.
The site enables cultural groups to list projects that need money. Potential donors can scan the proposals and contribute to anything that appeals to them. They also can signal their friends through Facebook.
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The Power2give fundraising runs alongside the ASC’s push for education money in its annual campaign.
The ASC began raising money for education in its 2011 campaign, when it brought in $1 million to help restore some of the arts programs cut from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The Levine Foundation contributed $100,000.
This year’s campaign, which ends June 30, will probably bring in a little more than $1 million, ASC President Scott Provancher said.
The Levine foundation’s focus on Power2give comes after Wells Fargo’s move to help publicize the site. In April, Wells Fargo announced a $100,000 matching grant for the Charlotte Symphony’s projects on Power2give.
The Levine Foundation, echoing the bank, thinks Power2give has the potential to lead more people to support the arts – and move current donors to give more.
Results since August are pointing that way. Individual donors have given $114,000 to help fund 149 projects, Provancher said. Nearly half the donors were first-time givers to the cultural groups.
“That kind of blew us away,” Provancher said. “We were hoping for new donors, but we didn’t expect (the percentage) to be that big.”
Including matching money, the fundraising total for Power2give so far is about $271,000, the ASC says. Matching grants have come from the Knight Foundation, Goodrich, Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, and Wells.
With the boost from the Levine Foundation, Power2give might bring in $650,000 to $700,000 in its first year, Provancher said. That would be well beyond the ASC’s initial prediction of about $300,000. But that projection had largely been guesswork in the absence of any precedent.
As the ASC and other arts groups work to rebuild their fundraising after the recession, Provancher said, Power2give could be a valuable ally. It could attract people who aren’t interested in traditional fund drives.
“People want to know,” he said, “where their dollars are going.”