Lezlie Sterling / Bee file, 2007

Libby Reynolds was one child who tried out a cello at an "instrument petting zoo" hosted by the Camellia Symphony Orchestra in 2007.

Editorial: Sacramento region arts groups need to feel your gratitude on online giving day

Published: Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 12A
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013 - 7:13 am

Residents of the Sacramento region have a prime opportunity to step up and support the arts, straight from our laptops and smartphones.

The region's first Arts Day of Giving, a 24-hour challenge, starts early Monday, with online donations benefiting 78 groups throughout Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties.

The Sacramento Region Community Foundation – working with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, For Arts' Sake and the Nonprofit Resource Center – has set a minimum goal of $100,000, with hopes of reaching as much as $500,000. The partners have lined up $100,000 in matching donations from corporate sponsors, and recruited dozens of restaurants and other businesses that will offer discounts to contributors.

Foundation officials say they will also measure success by how many total gifts are made, how many new donors are attracted and how much support emerges for smaller art groups. If successful, the foundation plans a giving day next year for all nonprofits in the region.

Online giving marathons, which try to harness the Internet and social media to raise smaller donations from a wider base of people, have been successful elsewhere. Sarasota, Fla., nonprofits brought in nearly $2.8 million from more than 17,600 donations last month; Richmond, Va., raised $1.2 million from more than 15,000 donations last September.

The arts are an essential part of quality of life here, and there is plenty of need in the arts community.

The struggles of big-name organizations during the Great Recession have been well documented. For instance, the Sacramento Opera had to cancel most of its 2011-12 season, and the Sacramento Philharmonic almost closed last year. The two are merging operations to stay afloat.

Many smaller groups have also had to cut programs and offerings as ticket sales and donations plunged. Benefiting groups include the Camellia Symphony Orchestra, Capital Stage, Davis Art Center, Elk Grove Artists, La Raza Galeria Posada, Placer Theatre Ballet, the Rocklin Community Theatre, Roseville Community Concert Band and the Yolo County Arts Council.

The Arts Day of Giving is part of a three-year campaign launched in 2011 to increase charitable giving by individuals, which is particularly important because the region lacks many Fortune 500 companies. A study found that residents of the region donate less than the national average.

This is a chance to show how generous we really are.

Want to give?

The Arts Day of Giving starts at 4:29 a.m. Monday (to match the date) and will go for 24 hours at www.givelocalnow.org. Donations of as little as $25 can be made with MasterCard, Visa or Discover; eligible arts groups can be found by name or category.

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