An artist has many opportunities when it comes to interfacing with the non-profit community and charities. This can be something as simple as a donation to their offices or something as grand as unveiling a monumental work at a building dedication. Working closely with a group or cause that is dear to the artist can also be rewarding to the soul. Sharing your art with not-for-profit groups and charities can not only help those agencies, it can also lead to new exposure opportunities for the artist and be a great tax write-off.
Currently, I am in the process of donating a piece to The San Diego Chapter of the Soroptomists Club. They, along with a coalition of several Soroptimist International clubs in San Diego COUNTY are working on a program called Soroptimists Together Against Trafficking (STAT). This program works to raise awareness of domestic trafficking issues, with a focus on sexual trafficking. This is the movement of people, within national or across international borders, for the purposes of prostitution or other forms of exploitation. The painting I’m donating will be used in a special waiting room for female victims of trafficking. It is my hope that the beautiful colors add to the ambience of the room to help create an atmosphere of safety and security in this space.
It is of vital importance to work together with any group or organization in deciding which piece of art is to be selected for the benefit, fundraiser or donation. Giving them a variety to choose from helps to give them some ownership of the process and invites them to look at more than just one piece! The artist should always want to put his or her best pieces out there in the community, for any reason. All pieces considered should showcase the talents of the artist in their purest form. In addition, the piece should be appropriate for the group or cause that is receiving it.
Remember that art collectors are also donors, and this connection can help an artist generate new leads for future clientele through events.
When working with groups or agencies always ask to be included in any print materials associated with the event or ask to have a mention of the donation or your name included in their newsletter and/or email blasts. Also, if placing a piece at their offices make sure that proper credit for the work is posted with the piece. Waiting rooms are great places to get exposure for your art. At silent auctions, insist on placing some promotional materials by your donation, at minimum a small stack of business cards. Finally, always attend any event, fundraiser, benefit or dedication that includes your work or ask to volunteer or help organize these functions. A mention of your work by the host or in an event program is another vehicle for getting exposure to potential art enthusiasts at these events.
I have developed many strong alliances within the non-profit community though the aforementioned avenues and believe very strongly in the link between the artist and community. Art is for people to enjoy, in public, in a welcoming environment. What better way to achieve this than through those that give so much to our communities to improve the lives of others?
In the past I have worked with San Diego Coastkeeper, Family Health Centers of San Diego and Point Loma High School Instrumental Music Boosters for donation and fundraising purposes. Having these alliances in the community has been a very spiritually and emotionally rewarding process and has also led to further sales and new enthusiasts of my work.
It is up to the artist to figure out what foundations he or she supports and also to figure out how to work together with that agency and how best to benefit them. It is not out of the question for the artist to ask for some share of the publicity associated with these events and relationships. I have found every one that I’ve worked with very receptive to getting the word out. Remember, not-for profits are powerhouses of marketing and networking due to their role in the community and their need to engage and solicit the public’s support of their causes.
I have only scratched the surface of how mutual connections with non-profit organizations can help an emerging artist gain respect and exposure in the community. Working with and helping those that better our communities is good for the spirit as well.