M&T pledges $500,000 to BPO Crescendo Campaign, Jim Fink, Buffalo Business First

Efforts by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra to meet its $25 million Crescendo Campaign goal has received a major boost from one of its biggest corporate supporters.

M&T Bank has pledged $500,000 to the campaign as the BPO nears its $25 million goal. The Crescendo Campaign was announced last year and more than $23 million has been raised in pledges.

M&T has pledged its donation through its M&T Charitable Foundation.

“Our orchestra needs the support of business leaders in our community to ensure it has a strong future for decades to come,” said Robert Wilmers, M&T Bank chairman and CEO.

Wilmers said he hopes other corporations and individuals follow suit.

Since 1992, M&T Bank and its executives have contributed nearly $5 million to the BPO.

“It is my hope that this gift will inspire others, especially our corporate leaders, to give to the BPO, an institution that enriches the fabric of our community,” said Louis Ciminelli, BPO Board of Trustees chairman.

The Crescendo Campaign is the latest targeted effort by the orchestra’s leadership to have its endowment fund surpass the $50 million mark. Typically orchestras need endowments that are five times its annual operating budget.

This year, the BPO has an $11 million operating budget.

Before the Crescendo Campaign began, the BPO’s endowment fund was approximately $34 million.

Officials said the fund will help finance collaborative efforts with other local cultural organizations and expand its “Music for Youth” concert series and “Next Generation” education programs.