Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fundraising in Our New Economy

As artists, most of us have learned to manage our own careers out of necessity as a result of all this economic turmoil. Fortunately, there's lots of marketing advice targeted to our field that's readily available. Social networking tools are a godsend for getting our work "out there" and we're quickly learning the value of engagement. And best of all, most of it is free! We're making these changes out of necessity if we want to keep making our art and keep making sales to support our efforts.

We're only a tiny part of the huge shift that's occurred in most business practices and models. Life as we know it has changed and change we must if we want to survive.

May I suggest that fundraisers and charities embrace the changes as well? Silent auctions and $150. a ticket soirees (most are comped) are quickly becoming passé. It's the same old, same old. Very unfortunately, most attending these functions are bargain shopping instead of sincerely supporting the cause of the fundraiser. I get requests for donations weekly and I'm usually amiable about helping out. However, when my donation is "purchased" at an underpriced bid, it's hurtful to my clients, my pricing structure, my life-long career of building my reputation and my efforts to continuously pursue excellence with my skills as a painter. Also, the fundraiser is usually unaware that we as artists cannot write off the retail cost of an item...only the materials used in it's production. So, let's see, I've had this brush for X years at a cost of Y and used it Z times.Get the picture?

A bill introduced by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) called Tax Fairness for Artists and Writers  has never gotten passed the introduction phase. Why? I realize the pressing nature of this bill is far down the list of priorities for the greater good of this country. However, with all the funding cuts adversely affecting charities, it's a win-win situation for both artists and fundraisers. In a nutshell, an artist would be able to deduct a fair market value for a donation of their art enabling such artists to generously give something of much higher value thereby enhancing the fundraising capabilities of charities.

And as an aside, I personally believe that fundraisers must now also embrace the said changes. I think creativity in fundraising is necessary to generate renewed interest in their efforts from would-be supporters. Instead of the tiresome silent and live auctions with the same predictable items offered, why not try to create something like an online treasure hunt where registrants participate (for a fee of course) in a game similar to a poker run. They could be directed to websites of like causes to obtain "keys" (purchased, of course) that over a set period of time ultimately ends with a grand prize for the winner. This could also create partnerships and networking opportunities with similar organizations. Hey, I'm just brainstorming...the point is: get out your thinking caps and do something interesting and different and fun to attract the givers. The auctions are not working and in any business, when something isn't working, it's trashed to allow new ideas to come forth.

Just offering my humble opinion,

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