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How Can ‘Giving Tuesday’ Impact Houston’s Arts Groups?

Some local organizations expect to raise thousands of dollars during the day dedicated to charitable giving.


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Matthew Dirst with Ars Lyrica Houston
Matthew Dirst with Ars Lyrica Houston

As the holiday shopping season gets into full swing, we're constantly being told where, when, and how to get the best deals. But Giving Tuesday is different.

"The idea of having Giving Tuesday is saying, ‘Stop and forget about consuming for a while. Let's think about giving back,'" says Eileen Heisman, President and CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust.

She says that up to 40 percent of individual donations to charities are made in the last six weeks of the year. That's not uncommon, since many people are looking for ways to claim tax deductions before the end of the calendar year.

"But Giving Tuesday is this really great definition of the launch of giving season," Heisman says.

Local arts nonprofit Stages Repertory Theatre raised more than $17,000 from 100 donors last year. The theater's Mark Folkes put those numbers into perspective.

"Last season, we had 535 donors overall," Folkes says. "So, nearly 20 percent of our donors gave on this one day last year. It's pretty remarkable."

This year, the theatre is in the running to get some matching funds from the Houston Arts Alliance if they hit certain fundraising goals.

Since Giving Tuesday began in 2012, groups have started getting creative with it. In the case of the early music ensemble Ars Lyrica Houston, they've been able to incorporate it into their annual fundraising efforts.

"Last year, for example, we used Giving Tuesday as a kickstart day for our campaign," says Kinga Ferguson, the group's Executive Director, adding that that their online giving has increased by 20 percent over the last three years they've taken part in the movement.

Not in a financial position to give? Heisman says volunteering for a charity is another way to be a philanthropist year-round.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been changed from an earlier version to address how much money the Stages Repertory Theatre could get from the Houston Arts Alliance.

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