A Happy Follow-Up On Charlotte

Thanks to Charlotte Symphony Executive Director Jonathan Martin for sending along a press release announcing that the organization has successfully raised the remaining balance of their $1.77 million fundraising goal, details of which were published in yesterday’s post…


Symphony Meets Challenge; Anonymous Donor Comes Forward

As CSO raises $500,000 in advance of December 31 deadline, donor pledges additional $50,000

The Charlotte Symphony (CSO) announced today that it has received the $500,000 in gifts necessary to match a challenge grant offered in August. The half-million-dollar challenge, which had to be met by December 31, 2009, was pledged anonymously.

Today, at the request of the Charlotte Symphony, donors Sandra and Leon Levine have made their gift public.

“The extraordinary generosity of Sandra and Leon Levine continues to lift up this community, addressing needs across the city, from healthcare and social services to education and the arts,” said CSO Board Chair Pat Rodgers. “Their challenge to the Symphony ignited broad philanthropic response, inspiring both new and longtime supporters to invest in our city’s orchestra. We are exceedingly grateful and are delighted that the community can now join us in thanking the Levines publicly for their exceptional gift.”

Since announcing the challenge grant on August 27, the Symphony has received nearly 100 individual matching donations, ranging in size from $5 to $200,000.

Upon hearing the news that the Symphony had met the half-million-dollar challenge, the Levines pledged an additional $50,000 to the Symphony’s 2009-2010 annual fund to underscore the call for continued annual operating support for the Symphony.

“The Charlotte Symphony has been a cornerstone of the city’s cultural life for nearly 80 years,” said Leon Levine. “It was our hope that the challenge gift would encourage widespread individual support for the Symphony from across the community. Charlotte’s non-profit sector requires an ongoing commitment – not only to address crises exacerbated by the current economic climate, but to create a solid foundation for the city’s future. We are pleased with the response to the challenge and look forward to seeing a continued broadening of support in our community for the Symphony.”

The Symphony’s donor base has grown significantly in 2009. As of December 1, the total number of first-time donors to the Symphony was five times the number of new donors at the same time last year.

“We are humbled by the profound generosity of Sandra and Leon Levine,” said CSO Executive Director Jonathan Martin, “and the many donors who, inspired by their challenge gift, responded strongly and affirmatively. As we enter the New Year, the Charlotte Symphony renews its dedication to serving the growing, dynamic Charlotte community.”

The $500,000 challenge and matching gifts contribute $1 million to a total of $5.6 million in “bridge funds” required over the next five years for the Symphony to maintain balanced fiscal operations, as it continues to improve its earned revenue and annual funding support and to grow its endowment.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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