Across the Upstate, the novel coronavirus has forced a sudden halt to many planned fundraising activities, forcing nonprofit organizations to rethink their strategies. The cancellation of events struck arts nonprofits particularly hard. These groups are now rallying to raise the money necessary to continue operating during the pandemic and to be able to take the stage once more when the situation becomes safer.
Thanks to the organizers of Giving Tuesday, nonprofits in Greenville were able to capitalize on the publicity of the annual online fundraising event that usually happens on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — in 2019 Giving Tuesday helped raise about $2 billion in the U.S. alone. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers created a special Giving Tuesday on May 5 to help nonprofits at this time, calling it Giving Tuesday Now.
“Communities are encouraged to take action on behalf of first responders, as well as the world’s other — often forgotten — frontline workers: the nonprofits and community organizations that feed, house, educate, and nurture neighbors impacted by the global pandemic,” the organizers said on the group’s website. The regularly scheduled Giving Tuesday will be December 1, 2020.
In Greenville, arts-focused nonprofits highlighted not only their canceled performances and events but also how they’ve used technology to help connect with communities.
The Greenville Symphony Orchestra, for example, has pivoted to bringing music to smartphones and computers with special programs and recordings of previous performances. On Giving Tuesday Now, the symphony asked social media followers to show their engagement with their content while also asking for contributions. Donors gave over $2,400 on May 5, the most of any Giving Tuesday, said Christine DeMint, the development director of the symphony.
While the symphony hasn’t been raising funds heavily during the pandemic, DeMint said, it has allowed patrons who bought tickets before the pandemic to donate the money to the organizations instead of seeking a refund or a voucher for another performance.
While it might not be performing live for a while, the symphony’s online presence has grown, DeMint said. “We’ll continue to find ways to bring music to the community.”
For the Metropolitan Arts Council, the special Giving Tuesday brought with it an outpouring of support. While the goal for a campaign that began in late April had originally been set at $10,000, the group has raised over $27,500 as of last week, said Alan Ethridge, MAC’s executive director. On Facebook alone, the group pulled in over $10,300 from more than 100 donors.
“Overall, I’ve been blown away by the generosity of our donors during this time, many of whom are stretched thin. It speaks to the importance of support for the arts in general that our supporters have been very vocal about wanting to step up to help,” Sablone said in an email.
The generosity shown to these groups is just part of the Greenville spirit, said Ethridge. The city is “an amazing philanthropic community.”
“There’s a lot of civic pride and concern over Greenville’s cultural assets because they make Greenville such a great place,” he said.