Fund for the Arts Crowdfunding Platform Raises $1 Million

The Fund for the Arts’ Power2Give online fundraising platform has raised more than $1 million so far for arts and culture projects produced by regional nonprofit organizations. 

In crowdfunding, individuals give online directly to a project, like helping an organization renovate a rehearsal or studio space. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two popular crowdfunding platforms, but Power2Give focuses on arts and cultural nonprofits within a specific region. 

Current Power2Give Kentucky projects vary widely, from canvases for youth art therapy programs to child-friendly furnishings for very young ballet students. Any federal tax exempt nonprofit organization in Kentucky or Southern Indiana can use the service as long as the project involves arts and culture in some way. Sexton Smith says that inclusivity has been key to Power2Give’s appeal.

“We believe at the Fund for the Arts that arts and culture connect through all industries and all types of nonprofits,” she says.

Actors Theatre of Louisville has received support for six projects so far, including funding for audience engagement events surrounding last season’s production of Sam Shepard’s “True West” and printing costs for the New Voices high school playwright anthology. Unlike giving to a general operating support appeal, the results of crowdfunding are up close and personal  a donor can attend one of those audience events or hold a copy of that anthology and think, “I helped make this.”

“Power2give.org is an innovative platform to engage donors in the power of philanthropy, as it makes the connection between their giving and the impact more tangible,” says Actors Theatre managing director Jennifer Bielstein. 

The Fund passed the $1 million mark on September 11, less than two years after its launch in December 2011. More than half of the funds raised so far ($512,000) comes from 2,223 individual donors giving to 378 specific arts and culture projects posted by 105 tax-exempt nonprofit organizations in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. The rest ($491,000) comes from matching funds from corporations and government agencies. Humana, Republic Bank, the Kentucky Arts Council and Louisville Metro government's External Agencies Fund are among the organizations offering matching funds for projects.

The Kentucky Arts Council has committed another $100,000 in matching funds this fiscal year, and Sexton Smith says Republic Bank, which has supported Power2Give with matching funds from its inception, is close to announcing another matching gift soon.

“We don’t know what that figure is going to be, but it’s going to be meaningful,” she says.  

Matching funds are offered to projects as they become available. Some matches are restricted – the Kentucky Arts Council only matches funds for the arts organizations that already receive state support, and Louisville Metro only supports projects and organizations in Jefferson County. Corporate funds tend to be less restrictive. Unlike major capital campaigns, Power2Give projects are smaller in focus (there's a $10,000 asking cap) and matching dollars help nonprofits make the most of their online appeals.

“The matching opportunities also have helped us to drive some urgency around specific projects and really incentivize people to support Actors Theatre,” says Bielstein.

The crowdfunding platform also reaches donors who might not otherwise be engaged. Sexton Smith says 80 percent of Power2Give individual donors have not given to the Fund for the Arts recently.

Any federal-tax-exempt nonprofit organization in Kentucky or Southern Indiana can submit a funding project for approval on the Power2Give website. Monthly coaching sessions are offered during “Power Hour” at the Fund for the Arts headquarters. The free training sessions last about an hour and are aimed at helping anyone associated with a nonprofit organization, from board members to volunteers, learn how to create and launch a successful Power2Give campaign.

The next training session is Friday, October 4 at 9 a.m. at the Fund for the Arts offices (623 W. Main St.) .

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