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34 community projects seek arts-related funding

The puppets from Zoot Theatre Company yearn for more comfortable lodging when they’re not on stage — being piled on top of one another isn’t much fun. And, in order to allow more local kids to experience the thrill of playing an instrument, The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance needs violins, violas and cellos.

The folks at The Human Race Theatre are seeking a safety saw in order to avoid serious power saw injuries when they’re building sets. And without a new evaporator for their Sugar Shack at the Narrows Reserve, the Greene County Parks & Trails staff won’t be able to continue giving visitors the opportunity to taste fresh maple syrup and hike the Sugar Bush.

If Power2Give can do for Dayton what it’s done for other cities across the nation, those wishes — and dozens of others — may soon be granted.

The innovative fund-raising project, under the auspices of Culture Works, hosted a pre-launch celebration Wednesday evening at the Dayton Art Institute. Thirty four projects are now up for consideration via the online cultural marketplace. To fully fund all of them would require $162,940.

How it Works

The idea is to get donors more intimately involved with arts and cultural projects by allowing them to pick-and-choose the specific projects they’d like to fund.

After being screened by staffers at Culture Works, a wish list item proposed by a non-profit is posted on the Power2Give web site for 90 days. Donors look over the list, pick a project and make their donation by credit card or through a Power2Give gift card.

Any amount of money is welcome, and many gifts will be immediately matched — thanks to initial funding from Dayton Power & Light ($50,000) and the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural Fund ($10,000).

Success across the nation

Credit for Power2Give goes to the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, N.C., the organization that dreamed up the concept in 2011 after their united arts fund had sustained a 36.8 percent drop in one year.

It was during a 2012 national arts retreat that Martine Meredith Collier, president & CEO of Dayton’s Culture Works, first heard about the idea and its great success in Charlotte. At that same gathering, folks from Louisville were enthusiastic about the idea as well. Collier says she could see that Power2Give offered an innovative way to attract new donors.

“The fact that Power2Give had raised over $700,000 in Louisville during its first year was impressive,” Collier said. “But even more impressive was the fact that 81 percent of the donors had never given to the united arts fund before, and 46 percent had never given previously to the organization whose project they helped to fund through Power2Give!”

Coming to Dayton

After more research, Collier proposed to her Culture Works board that it become a host organization for Power2Give. That proposal eventually turned into an organizational goal for 2013-2014.

“The next step was to identify a founding sponsor to underwrite the costs associated with the start-up of this project,” Collier explained. CareSource stepped up to the plate with a $50,000 grant.

“Sustaining the network of nonprofit organizations in our region is critical,” says Cathy Ponitz, executive director of the CareSource Foundation. “Funding is getting tougher for nonprofits and the resources in the Dayton region are especially limited. And then we heard about It got us excited about the possibilities.”

Ponitz said this crowd-funding idea is a great example of how small drops in the bucket can create an overflowing sea of opportunity. The best part, she says, is that a majority of the donors are new and develop a connection to the organization.

“If technology can help people win elections, find long-lost relatives and earn college diplomas, there’s no reason we can’t help fund the arts, health, environment, education and human services nonprofits who desperately need us to care,” Ponitz says. “It’s just that simple.” Her foundation, she adds, is anxious to share its enthusiasm for this approach and help people understand the power of social media.

Although in some towns, Power2Give is limited to arts organization, Ponitz wanted to expand the idea to include others.

“The only criteria is that there is an arts component,” she explains. ” Think about nonprofits using music therapy to address autism and brain injury. Putting art on the walls of every new Habitat for Humanity house. Support creativity for STEM education. Finding ways for urban children to paint in the MetroParks…for free.”

“We are a community of innovation in every way,” Ponitz says. ” This is another stellar example of that. The ideas are limitless.”

Introducing the idea to the community

On Jan. 23, more than 120 nonprofit organization from an eight-county region gathered at CareSource headquarters to learn more about the broad-based community collaboration that was bringing Power2Give to the Dayton Region.

Perry Mixer, of the Charlotte Arts and Science Council, addressed the crowd and shared examples of successful Power2Give projects. Nationwide, Power2Give has raised more than $4.75 million since its inception in 2011, supporting more than 1,927 projects and 21,235 donations. Among the cities now participating are Atlanta, Houston, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus.

Collier says what excited her most about that first day was the interaction between individuals who’d met for the first time and were already exploring ways to collaborate.

“These kinds of cross-sector conversations and connections between nonprofits lead to greater collaboration, more opportunities for shared services, and a more engaged community — all outcomes that we were hoping that Power2Give would help to achieve,” she said.

Organizations sign on

Shayna McConville, cultural arts manager for the City of Kettering Parks, Recreation and Cultural Art, said her organization had previously used a crowd-sourcing campaign to fund a small project and was inspired by the results.

“One of our close counterparts that we greatly admire, the Indianapolis Art Center, successfully raises project funds through Power2Give on a regular basis,” she says. ” We knew that if Power2Give was a helping them achieve their goals, than we would be in good hands.”

McConville, whose proposal is to fund artist-led installations at Rosewood Arts Centre, said Power2Give is a valuable opportunity for arts organizations not traditionally funded by Culture Works, allowing them to receive funding from the community and sponsors who are matching dollars.

“The site could become a hub for learning about the smaller organizations with less resources on the same level as the bigger ones,” she said. ” It may incite more experimental, new and unexpected projects and collaborations.”

John Faas, development director for The Human Race Theatre Company, admits he was originally skeptical about Power2Give.

“We had used Kickstarter for a project to no avail,” he explained. “The main issue with Kickstarter is that you have to meet your entire project goal to obtain ANY of the pledges made to your proposal. The great thing about Power2Give is that each organization gets to keep ANY funds raised toward their project regardless of if they reach the full goal.”

Allison Cox, the new annual fund and grants manager for the Human Race, designed the group’s Power2Give project and says the ease of access when donating is a real plus.

“The ability to click and donate is crucial when selling anything in today’s world,” she said.

A broader view

Mary Campbell-Zopf, the deputy director of the Ohio Arts Council, says the Power2Give model reflects the survey her organization did a few years ago that looked at how citizens participate in the arts and the nature of their involvement.

“What we learned is that people have a strong desire to be creators themselves and many of them talked about how technology has changed the way they participate in the arts,” she said, adding that the OAC research also mirrored research done by the National Endowment for the Arts.

“In the 2008 survey for the first time since they started they saw a five percent decline in arts participation by Americans and it shocked them,” Campbell-Zopf said. As a result he NEA realized it needed to redo their survey to reflect the way people participate in the arts today.

“People are plugged into their MP3 players, we’re starting to see operas presented in movie theaters and ball parks,” she said. “Young people are making their own films, downloading their own music.”

The NEA, she says, has now asked an important question: is arts participation declining in traditional forms but increasing in more non-traditional forms? And how is technology transforming the way we participate in the arts? And how do you begin to use social media and crowd-sourcing to really engage stakeholders and get them excited about supporting causes, and working together to help support things they believe in?

Power2Give may help to answer those questions.

“It’s really different,” Campbell-Zopf said. “I think people love the excitement, that they can get online to check the status of their project.”

“The younger demographic needs to be tapped and my general impression is that it is actually helping arts organizations raise dollars,” she said. “Dayton has faced tremendous challenges, but nonetheless has young urban creatives — professionals, artists, foodies, designers, tech people — who love living in the city, love the cultural aspects and are civic minded. Power2Give will appeal to them as a way to use technology to support causes that mean a lot to them.”

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