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Drive kicks off

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Arts & Science Council in Charlotte aims to raise $10.3 million.

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. [02.17.04] — The Arts & Science Council has launched its annual drive with a goal of $10.3 million, up slightly from last year, while its year-old foundation is working to help the council and its affiliates develop planned gifts and endowments.

Bowing to the struggling economy and the crowded fundraising marketplace, the council aims to raise $100,000 more than last year, when it exceeded its goal by $100,000.

“We have been very conscious about the other competing demands in the community, the slowed-down economy and the consequence of that slowdown on people’s psychological state,” says Harriet Sanford, president and CEO.

Meeting the goal for the drive, chaired by Frank Blanchfield, managing partner for the Charlotte office of Chicago-based law firm Mayer Brown Roe & Maw, will depend on continuing to attract smaller donors, in part through business-to-business marketing targeted to individual industries, Sanford says.

“Our strategy really is working with the individual,” she says. “We want to find new donors and expand the base because the needs of cultural institutions are daunting.”

The number of gifts of $50 or less grew to just over 21,000 last year from more than 14,000 in 2000, when the council raised $9.2 million.

“It is your more reliable source, the smaller gifts,” she says. “That has been the way we’ve grown the campaign. It has not been on the back of large gifts, although we continue with that strategy, too.”

To reach more individual donors, the council is launching new initiatives or building on existing efforts.

This year, for example, it is creating a “Sold on Culture” program targeting the residential real estate market, which Sanford says has “held America together.”

The council has developed materials about the community’s cultural resources that real estate brokers can give to clients when they buy homes.

“We are looking, by industry, for better ways to connect,” Sanford says.

Continuing a year-old initiative, the council is distributing to the 60 arts groups its supports a directory of small businesses that support the council, and encouraging the nonprofits to do business with those firms.

For donors who give $750 or more, the council also has created a “gold” version of the Givin’ & Livin’ card it has distributed in the past that donors can use for discounts at its 28 member agencies.

The council also will distribute a cultural calendar to all third, fourth and fifth graders in Mecklenburg County, along with suggestions for how their teachers and families can use the calendar, funded by the council and the Metlife Foundation in New York City.

Beyond the drive, a new Foundation for the Arts & Sciences that the council created a year ago at the Foundation for the Carolinas has created a board, which has hired a planned giving officer and formed a planned giving committee.

Cassandra Tydings, an estate planning lawyer who joined the new foundation in September as planned giving officer, is creating planned-giving materials and meeting with professional advisers and arts groups to talk about the foundation and how it can work with their clients and donors to develop planned gifts and endowments.

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