Many artists know that when they use their creativity as an instrument to help others in need they reap many rewards. It offers them another outlet for creativity and connecting with others. Artists help charities in many ways depending on their personal choices, artistic strengths and other factors.
If you have a desire to make a difference there are unlimited ideas and opportunities from which to choose. In this article I provide several suggestions. Perhaps they will inspire you to try something new.
Helping charities has been a priority of mine and I have many fond memories. During a very cold winter I organized an exhibition with a group of artists and we donated a percentage of our proceeds to City Harvest, an organization that feeds the hungry. On another occasion, when I presented a talk to an artist group, the “admission fee” was for every artist to bring a new, warm pair of children’s pajamas for The Pajama Program, an organization that delivers warm sleepwear to children in need.
It is always a pleasure to collaborate with nonprofit organizations and other artists to make a difference and build relationships with other kindred spirits.
Ways For Artists To Make A Difference
1. Connect to their mission.
The options are endless. Consider helping charities whose missions are aligned with yours and the nature of your work. Artists can help charities by picking from a range of topics — from environment, politics, health care, orphans, poverty, homelessness, astronomy and space, animals, women’s issues, and peace – to name a few.
2. Choose from many different venues.
The places that could use your artist’s touch are programs in hospitals, libraries, museums, the city council, variety club, animal protection groups, political clubs, neighborhood improvement groups, girl scouts and religious and cultural groups.
3. Reach out.
Call or write a letter to the Executive Director. Describe how your vision would benefit them. One way is to mail a personalized letter (or email) with a brief description of your intentions, and refer to your previous charity projects. Provide contact info and website address. You may also want to enclose a CD of your art work and resume. Follow up with a phone call and attempt to arrange an appointment.
4. Offer a percentage of the proceeds.
You can collaborate with charities by offering a percentage of proceeds from sales of art. When promoting your fund raising efforts, you might state: “All proceeds from the sale of my artwork from this exhibition will be donated to the XYZ organization.” First, find out if the charity requires their written permission to use their name in your promotion and on your invitation.
5. Invite representatives of the charity as featured guests.
At your next exhibition or open studio invite special guests from the organization to help them promote their cause. Add their name(s) to your invitation. Set up a table where they can distribute their materials. Ask them to present a talk. You may find in response to your hospitality they will help you promote your event and increase your attendance.
“You give but little when you give of possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
6. Suggest an art auction or raffle to help raise funds.
This could be a fun project to do with other artist friends. It might also be a great way to launch a relationship with the organization that could lead to a more permanent ongoing relationship.
7. Consider ‘pitching’ an idea for a children’s art project.
If you work with positive art themes, art therapy, recycled or found objects, you can create a step-by-step guide on how children could create their own piece. Also, consider proposing a children’s workshop.
8. Offer your creative contributions.
Offer your inspired and creative ideas to help them build their brand and mission. Offer to paint a mural or hang your art to spruce up their space.
9. Publicize their efforts.
Nonprofit organizations always need publicity and praise. Write about the charities in your blog posts, tweets, and Facebook comments. Promote them in your email newsletters. Let them know in advance and tag them. Send them the links to your articles whenever you write about them.
“May your charity increase as much as your wealth.” ~ Proverb
10. Choose from monthly themes.
Every month is another opportunity to support worthy causes. There are many holidays and special events on a national and international scale that relates to you, your art work and/or your special interests. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. The first day of winter is known as Universal Human Rights Month. On April 22 we honor Environmental Awareness.
11. Offer to assist with charities’ annual events.
Reach out to leading individuals, businesses and groups, including charities, that you know are organizing annual events. Offer to volunteer you time and/or art to help them promote their events, products, services and messages.
12. Design a plan and grow.
You may want to start with a small local organization and demonstrate your generosity. Once you have made some contacts with the local charities, you can ask about their national organization and see how you can expand your participation.
“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi
13. Use the Internet for leads.
To find possible charities conduct a search on Yahoo or Google. Type your key words and region and ‘nonprofit’ or ‘charity’. Use Twitter by searching #charities. Find charities in your community or region through friends, associates and the local newspapers. You can also find lists of charities at: www.charitynavigator.org and www.nycharities.org.
14. Visit charities’ Web sites.
Many organizations offer a page describing what volunteer opportunities are available. You will discover that some programs use working artists as facilitators for multi-week programs. Others have single-day opportunities available for art workshops.
15. Offer your design talent or reproductions of your art work.
Grant them permission to use your images for reproduction on custom printed stickers, promotional magnets, screen printed bumper stickers, promotional window signs, and other products to help the organizations get their messages out and raise money. I know an artist who did this and raised her recognition to international status from the publicity she received.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” ~ Mother Teresa
16. Use These Resources
The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS offers a comprehensive online directory of regional, national and international organizations with art programs. Visit the Directory for more information.
Idealist “connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.” You may sign up and receive a daily listing of all opportunities to help charities. When you sign up you can select how often you receive updates and which ones you are most interested in. You can select by geographic region. Opportunities range from participating in an eco-art gallery project to being a docent in an art museum. Visit Idealist for more information
Beware of unscrupulous practices.
Not all organizations that claim to be charities are legitimate. Make sure the charities you choose are reputable. Google their name + scam. Verify the status of the organization through the Better Business Bureau, Attorney General’s Office and The Foundation Center.
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