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Originally published Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 9:37 PM

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Concertgoers getting ticket to philanthropy

Musician Dave Matthews is testing a new idea in Seattle that he hopes will inspire more charitable giving across the country. In a unique partnership...

Seattle Times business reporter

Musician Dave Matthews is testing a new idea in Seattle that he hopes will inspire more charitable giving across the country.

In a unique partnership with the website JustGive, Matthews is letting fans direct the proceeds of two upcoming Seattle shows to the charities of their choice. Every ticket is matched with an equal donation to philanthropy.

"The point is the act of giving and making the process available," he said. "I think it may make people feel a certain amount of power to see the ease of how you can give."

For each ticket sold, the buyer will receive a credit back for the full $150 ticket and handling price to apply to any of the 1.5 million charities in JustGive's database.

Matthews, who has performed benefits for causes including Hurricane Katrina, Haiti relief, small farmers and Tibet, estimates the events will raise $1 million over two nights. He and Tim Reynolds will play at McCaw Hall on Dec. 6 and 7.

The shows are an example of new ways philanthropy is being shaped by the Web and moving from a model relying on fewer, large donors to one that engages many more individuals.

Matthews, 43, said he and his manager, Coran Capshaw, were thinking about how to inspire giving a few months ago when they came up with the idea.

"If I was to do a concert for one organization or another, there are a few people who might have reasons, political or social, why they don't want to support that," Matthews said. "That might discourage them from going to the concert."

Concertgoers will have a few weeks after the show to decide where to donate, and any money that isn't allocated will be distributed among the charities already chosen by other fans.

Asked whether too many choices might dilute the money's impact, Matthews said even small amounts could make a difference.

"If $1,000 goes to a small SPCA, that makes a big difference," he said. "If a small community garden gets $150, that's a lot."

He said the exercise also reflects his faith in human nature.

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"I think inherent in all of us is a natural concern for one another, for our neighbors," he said. When organizations serving good causes need help more than ever, "it really falls on us."

After trying out the concept in Seattle, Matthews and Capshaw are hoping to expand it nationally.

Matthews, who was born in South Africa but has recently made Seattle his home, called the act of giving "a chemically changing experience." But he won't be lecturing about philanthropy from the stage.

"My job on that night is to put on a good show."

Kristi Heim: 206-464-2718 or kheim@seattletimes.com

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