Arts council begins workplace giving campaign

Swamp Fox

Arts council begins workplace giving campaign
By Ann Hicks
The Greenville News
[email protected]

In the springtime ... when the birds do sing -- to use the Bard's phrase -- is
as good a time as any to hatch out dreams and unfurl plans.

Julie A. Richard, executive director of the Metropolitan Arts Council, feels
sure the generous Greenville community is ready for the council's new approach
to fund raising.

Louisville, Ky.
Annual budget: $6.6 million
City/county contribution: $440,000

Hartford, Conn.
Annual budget: $2.7 million
City/county contribution: $397,000

Birmingham, Ala.
Annual budget: $2 million
City/county contribution: $445,000

Chattanooga, Tenn.
Annual budget: $1.6 million
City/county contribution: $400,000

Annual budget: $358,082
City contribution: $110,000

With that in mind, the Metropolitan Arts Council (MAC) is launching its
ambitious Campaign for the Arts this month. It's a workplace giving campaign
"whose time has come," says Julie A. Richard, MAC's executive director.

Workplace giving campaigns, increasingly popular among arts organizations
around the country, are conducted at the premises of a company. Employees are
solicited to fill out pledge cards (similar to a United Way campaign).

About MAC

MAC is an umbrella organization whose primary mission is to raise and grant
money to assist local arts groups, as well as individual artists, in their
efforts to provide, expand or create new arts programs.

The organization's support covers venues as large as the Peace Center and as
individualized as A Child's Haven, which provides music therapy for 2- to
5-year-old developmentally delayed children.

United effort

Such a campaign needed a united effort and support, Richard says, by all the
arts groups who would benefit, as well as companies where workplace giving
takes place.

"I think that is what essentially has happened over the last year and a half
here at MAC," Richard says. Arts groups joined together and are very much
behind the idea of generating new money for the arts through new individual

John Woodson, new artistic director of the Warehouse Theatre, and Dolly
Spigner, general manager of Carolina Ballet Theatre, showed their support for
MAC's efforts as they went along to help with its first workplace giving
campaign at the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce.

Woodson explained how, for example, theater professionals could assist a
business in giving more effective presentations, while two of CBT's performers
who came along with Spigner showed off their fancy footwork.

Nuts and bolts

Every campaign is different, Richard says.

Some Greenville businesses will want a low-key approach, while others want arts
groups to come in and demonstrate a sample of what they do. This can be
anything from a string quartet at lunchtime to each shift having a different

MAC goes in with a detailed presentation for the employees. (The company
decides if it wants low-key or high-action.)

Brochures and pledge cards are given to employees, who are asked to pledge on
site. An employee can elect payroll deduction, quarterly billing or a one-time

In turn, donors will receive incentives such as reduced-cost tickets to arts

Floating trial balloon

David Brown, president of the Greenville Chamber, says he wanted his
organization to be among the first to participate in MAC's workplace giving
campaign. First Union Bank, the city of Greenville and Bowater Inc. also have
signed up.

Not only did the Chamber's staff receive it very well, Brown says, but after a
weeklong campaign had a better-than-anticipated response.

"For us, it made sense to be personally involved in the support of the arts."

Brown said he liked the way MAC organized the campaign, including the forms and
the process of giving.

"This is kind of a sample year for MAC," he says.

"And, I would hope that other willing companies will have the same experience
that we've had. Many organizations in the country like MAC do employee giving
campaigns, including those in Charlotte, Winston-Salem and others. It is not an
unusual circumstance for a community to do workplace giving to grow its arts

Brown says the Chamber is in the position to see how important the arts are
when recruiting new companies. Agfa Corp.'s Jayne Ceebach, director of global
branding, agrees. One of the deciding factors in locating the company's
headquarters in Greenville in 1999 was the city's thriving arts community.
"When we were considering relocation of our company, Greenville indeed stood
out because, given its size, it had a surprising number of arts activities."

Voice of experience

Richard's optimism is based on the fact that other communities such as
Charlotte and Winston-Salem have had years of bounty with workplace giving.

The Charlotte-based Arts&Sciences Council (founded in 1958), raised more than
$10 million in 2002 and ranks third in the nation (behind New York and San
Jose) in fund raising. Of that amount, $6 million was raised by its 20-year-old
workplace giving program, says Kim McMillan, vice president of communications
for ASC.

Harriet Sanford, ASC president and CEO, says the council's campaign was one of
the largest in the United States last year, with nearly 800 volunteers
conducting 350 worksite campaigns.

Sanford says workplace giving can be effective for two reasons. One, it allows
the campaign to reach people who would be hard to reach otherwise but at the
workplace are a "built-in audience."

Two, positive corporate leadership helps. "If top management values it
(workplace giving) so do their second- and third-tier managers, and it makes
its way down to the ground floor. All levels participate, and none are missed."

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County covers a population of
306,000 and raises $2.6 million annually through its campaign -- half of that
amount represents workplace giving, says Stephanie Ankrom, director of
marketing and communications for the council.

Greenville's giving climate

Richard feels confident that Greenville is ready for workplace giving.

Corporate giving is very strong here, she says, and businesses and individuals
have been very generous to all nonprofits, not just the arts, for many years.

United Way of Greenville County president Ted Hendry, whose agency thrives on
workplace giving, supports Richard's efforts.

"Fund raising in all respects is very competitive. The good news is that
Greenville is a very generous community, and there are dollars to go around in
a lot of different ways. The arts are very important to our community, and
certainly we at the United Way are supportive of the arts community raising the
resources to do their important work."

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