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Arts council launches local crowdfunding service

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The Arts Council of Indianapolis on Wednesday unveiled a a new program to help central Indiana not-for-profit arts, cultural and humanities organizations raise funds for individual projects. 

Power2give, an online fundraising tool similar to “crowdfunding” websites such as Kickstarter and DonorsChoose.org, is being launched in Indianapolis with more than 60 not-for-profits taking part. Those groups will each be trying to raise a maximum of $10,000 within 90 days for 63 specific projects.

Indianapolis will be the 11th city to offer the Power2give service. The platform was developed and launched by the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte in 2011 and has raised more than $1 million nationwide for the arts.

Chase Bank and the Lilly Endowment Inc. are helping to support the program.

Money donated to Indianapolis groups on the website will go to the local arts council, which will then send 88 cents on every dollar directly to the selected projects.

Of the remaining 12 cents, 3 cents covers credit card fees. 3.75 cents pays for website maintenance and updates, and 5.25 cents is an administrative fee for the arts council, which will use its grant-services staff to manage the program, said Dave Lawrence, the council’s president and CEO.

Rather than donating to organizations’ general funds, contributions through Power2give.org are directed at specific needs.

For example, Lawrence said, the American Pianists Association wants to send a performer to a local high school, and Conner Prairie Interactive Historical Park wants to build fences for a cow pasture.

The JPMorgan Chase Foundation is matching grants dollar-for-dollar on 13 of the projects unveiled Wednesday.

Donors can select Indianapolis from a drop-down menu on the national website’s home page to find local groups or go directly to www.indyarts.org/power2give.

Lawrence said the crowdfunding website should help not-for-profits tap a new source of donors.

The Charlotte arts counci said 46 percent of Power2give’s donors were first-timers in the website’s first year.

The key market is people 30 and younger. More than 70 percent of that demographic does its giving online, Lawrence said.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson issued an advisory in July warning that many crowdfunding websites operate illegally and the Securities and Exchange Commission has yet to set up rules for them.

Lawson spokeswoman Valerie Kroeger said that the problems usually are found at businesses that are trying to exchange ownership shares.

Power2give, however, deals strictly with the not-for-profit community. Any organization with 501(c)3 status is allowed to collect donations through crowdfunding websites, Kroeger said.

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