Jessica Ramos waits for her turn on stage to perform Mexican Folk Dances at a noon-time lunch event at Mulvaney's at 19th and L Streets in Sacramento on Monday, April 29, 2013. The event was part of the region's first Arts Day of Giving, a 24-hour giving challenge that is raising funds for local nonprofit arts programs.

Thousands donate to Sacramento's first Arts Day of Giving

Published: Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013 - 9:10 am

After donating to a local Japanese drumming troupe, Donna Reedy was feeling upbeat.

And frankly, a little hungry.

The state employee was standing in line at the Drewski's Hot Rod food truck Monday afternoon, donation receipt in hand, about to cash in on a $1 discount from the mobile eatery.

Reedy was one of thousands of donors who participated in the Sacramento area's first 24-hour online giving challenge for arts groups, raising nearly $380,000 as of 8 p.m. Monday for local nonprofit arts groups.

"I'm a big fan of Japanese drumming," she said, surveying Drewski's menu. She made a contribution to the Sacramento Taiko Dan group.

The Arts Day of Giving, which ran from 4:29 a.m. Monday to 4:29 a.m. Tuesday, allowed donors who visited to choose from 78 arts and cultural organizations in four counties: Sacramento, Placer, Yolo and El Dorado.

Donations ranged from $25 to $10,000 each.

Priscilla Enriquez, chief giving officer for Sacramento Region Community Foundation, said organizers are "blown away" at the response for the event's first year.

"The majority of the gifts were under $50," she said, indicating the grass-roots nature of the fundraising. A matching contribution of $100,000 was pitched in by the foundation, Western Health Advantage and Wells Fargo Bank.

The event's goal was to make up for several tough economic years in which government funding was curtailed for many arts programs, while competition for donation dollars spiked, Enriquez said.

In exchange for a donation to an arts group, the donor got discounts from 27 different restaurants and businesses.

Mayor Kevin Johnson promoted the challenge before a crowd of supporters and art enthusiasts at Mulvaney's B&L restaurant in downtown Sacramento, saying he hoped the campaign could raise $500,000.

Johnson launched "For Art's Sake" in Sacramento three years ago to raise awareness about arts and spark private donations.

The tough economy meant less government funding for many arts and cultural organizations, along with more competition for donated dollars, he said.

"I made a commitment to let everyone know that arts matter in our community," Johnson said.

Johnson told the crowd that a thriving arts community is vital to a vibrant city core. According to the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, art brings the Sacramento area $112 million annually through tourism and business, and employs 4,500 people.

Enriquez said the average contribution per donor household in 2009 was $1,990, below the national average of $2,355. If donations could be increased to at least the national average, it would create $250 million extra for regional charities.

Johnson said 63 percent of Sacramento area residents give to nonprofits, below the national average of 66 percent. He pledged to help the nonprofit community edge above the national average.

Sacramento area's wealthier residents also give below the state and national averages, Enriquez said. While households making $200,000 or more a year donate about $18,000 to nonprofits, Sacramento area households with that income donate about $11,000.

Organizers decided to focus on arts contributions in the first year, but next year's 24-hour online challenge will be opened up to nonprofits of all stripes, Enriquez said.

Call The Bee's Anne Gonzales, (916) 321-1049. Follow her in Twitter @AnneGonzo.

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