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The Big Give: Supporting The Arts Pays Dividends to the Community

Walker Evans Walker Evans The Big Give: Supporting The Arts Pays Dividends to the Community
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When it comes to making philanthropic donations to local nonprofits, there are a lot of different types of charities and causes. Some organizations help to fight hunger, others assist with homelessness, many help with children’s needs and others fight for equality. A donation that goes towards funding the arts in Columbus may seem less essential by comparison, but Ruby Harper, Director of Grants & Services at the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) points out that it can mean so much more.

“It’s all about quality of life,” she explained. “Without art, we lack. Without art, we will struggle as a society. But it’s important that people follow their passion — if you’re passionate about ending homelessness, you should support that. If you’re passionate about the arts, then this is your chance to make an impact.”

The impact she’s referring to is The Big Give, the fundraising campaign launched by The Columbus Foundation in 2011 as a 24-hour marathon of community giving. During its first two years (2011 and 2013), The Big Give raised over $19 million for over 560 local nonprofits, and it returns at 10am on Tuesday, May 12th, running through 10am on Wednesday, May 13th.

“We have encouraged the 70-plus arts organizations that we work with to participate, which we’ve met with our own efforts to promote The Big Give via social media,” said Harper about the event. “We’ve never really taken the stance to promote that people should give directly to GCAC in the past, but we have actually received donations unexpectedly, which was a pleasant surprise.”

Harper explained that when The Big Give launched in 2011 it was during the midst of the national recession, and many arts organizations were hurting for support. This year, the campaign is still incredibly important, but has taken on a new meaning for many of the arts groups that GCAC assists.

“The Big Give is indicative that every penny counts,” she said. “We’re just now seeing a lot of arts organizations bouncing back in the past year , and they’re expanding again and starting to take risks again. Since 2009, many have been battening down the hatches and going into survival mode. The Big Give was vital then, and now it will become the extra funding that they need to push their doors open a little wider.”

Beyond operational and production costs, many arts organizations under the GCAC umbrella give back to other charities, which means that donations to those organizations pays dividends back into the community.

“The Columbus Museum of Art has a program where they work with Alzheimer patients and their caregivers, COSI has extensive programs for different levels of at-risk kids, and the Franklin Park Conservatory has nutrition, health and wellness projects where they work with schools,” said Harper. “There’s a lot of different ways that arts organizations affect education needs with after school programming and summer camps — there’s lots of different things out there like that, which people just don’t know about yet.” 

All Central Ohioans are invited to support their favorite charities and causes during The Big Give. Online donations to over 630 local nonprofit organizations can be made between 10am on Tuesday May 12th and 10am on Tuesday May 13th. All individual contributions will be amplified by a $1.3 million bonus pool assigned on a pro rata basis.

For more information, visit www.columbusfoundation.org.


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