“What happens when 10,000 people all at once try to donate to the arts through a single Web portal?” asks Mark Stryker in Tuesday’s (8/18) Detroit Free Press. “Gridlock, furious patrons, embarrassed officials and a classic good news-bad news story that saw $3.75 million raised for local cultural groups but also left a trail of anger and frustration throughout the arts community. Technical problems Tuesday sabotaged the Community Foundation Challenge, an online $1-million matching grant program for about 75 cultural groups in metro Detroit. … Here’s how it was set up: Donors were to log on to www.cfsem.org and give from $25 to $10,000 to individual arts groups ranging from large institutions like the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to grassroots organizations like the Northville Art House. The foundation would match 50 cents for every dollar, and the challenge was to end when the foundation money was gone.” The technology had been tested but the turnout was far more than expected. “Arts groups expressed mixed emotions Tuesday. They were grateful for the support but upset with the comedy of errors and worried about contributors that they had spent so much time and energy courting.” The $1 million in matching funds ran out at 3:30 p.m. and an additional $250,000 made available by the foundation at 6 p.m. ran out at 9 p.m.

Posted August 19, 2009