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Charlotte arts drive begins

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By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Arts & Science Council has kicked off its annual fund drive and launched a foundation to help cultural groups raise endowment dollars through planned giving.

 The goal for the annual drive, chaired by Gene Taylor, president of consumer and commercial banking at Bank of America, is $10.1 million

While that’s $50,000 more than was raised last year, when the goal was $10 million, this year’s goal includes $500,000 the council must raise to offset expected declines in workplace giving at companies hurt by the weak economy, says Harriet Sanford, the council’s president and CEO.

A key goal will be targeting “smaller gifts from more people,” she says.

Last year’s drive enlisted 38,000 donors, up from 34,000 a year earlier, including 21,000 who gave $50 or less, up from 16,000.

Efforts to target individuals include a discount card all donors can use at 28 member arts agencies, and plans for roughly 50 artists to perform, teach or create art in at least 35 workplaces.

And to support arts programs, schools will get back any dollars they raise above their workplace goals – an effort that last year netted schools amounts ranging from $25 to $1,400.

The drive, which runs in roughly 65 workplaces, also is targeting new campaigns and will add IBM, with 2,000 employees, and EDS, with 1,800.

The council, tops among all united arts funds in the U.S. in per-capita giving and total dollars raised in workplace campaigns, also has teamed up with the Foundation for the Carolinas.

The foundation will house and administer the council’s $34 million endowment and hire a full-time officer to boost planned giving to local cultural groups.

Working with Fund Evaluation Group, its Cincinnati-based investment advisor, the foundation will serve as fund advisor, tracking the new endowment’s investment performance, providing administrative support and overseeing investment managers, currently Bank of America and Wachovia.

The investment committee of the new Foundation for the Arts & Sciences will set policies for allocating its assets among different types of investments.

The new endowment, which expects to name a board and hire a planned giving officer by March 30, will work with the council’s member agencies to define the new officer’s job and develop planned giving strategies.

The partnership – believed to be an unusual teaming of a community foundation and united arts fund — will provide administrative and financial efficiencies and help tap new philanthropic resources, says Laura Meyer, executive vice president of the Foundation for the Carolinas.

Since it launched its own planned-giving program five years ago, she says, the $270 million-asset foundation has generated an estimated $350 million in planned gifts it will get after the donors’ deaths.

“This is the beginning of a partnership that effectively has no end,” Meyer says, who notes both groups celebrate their 45th anniversaries this year. “We’re trying to create something permanent that will last many generations.”

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