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VMFA rounds up new donors online

posted Oct 21, 2014, 2:48 AM by J Shaw   [ updated Oct 21, 2014, 2:48 AM ]
A local museum marked the opening of its latest exhibition by closing on a round of online fundraising.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts raised $61,225 in a crowdfunding campaign that lasted from Sept. 22 to Oct. 17. The money will go toward the museum’s exhibition fund. The exhibition fund helps the VMFA bring in marquee exhibits like Forbidden City: Imperial City Treasures from the Palace Museum, which just opened to the public.

It was the first time the nonprofit, state-owned institution organized a campaign done mostly online and with an emphasis on its lower threshold of giving, executive director of the VMFA foundation Claudia Keenan said.

“The first goal was to generate some excitement around the Forbidden City,” Keenan said. “Secondarily, we were interested in trying to find ways for folks to partner with us in new ways.”

The campaign received 253 individual donations. Frank Qiu and Ting Xu of Evergreen Enterprises agreed at the campaign’s outset to match donors’ contributions up to $25,000, which ended up being the largest single donation. The museum originally set a goal of $40,000 but eventually raised it to $55,000.

VMFA raised about $6.4 million in fiscal year 2014 and typically raises $4 million to $6 million annually, Keenan said. Usually the museum raises money from individuals, foundations and corporations either peer-to-peer or through direct mail.

Keenan said the VMFA will likely try another crowdfunding campaign in the future.

“We had a number of new folks come in,” Keenan said. “It clearly was a way for us to engage new folks.”

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