The Benefits of Giving
Chances are, you already realize the value and potential of service
to your community. You see the results and hear the stories everyday:
at-risk children find mentors, hungry people eat, a river basin
becomes cleaner. But as an artist, is there something unique you
can do? And is there a potential benefit to your own business? Certainly.
Partnering with nonprofit agencies is a no-risk, all-reward business
venture. Consider the suggestions below when choosing which nonprofit
to work with, and how to benefit from your generosity.
Being a Good Nonprofit Neighbor
Donating your time and talents exposes your artistic work and expertise
to new audiences, cultivating new networks and potential buyers.
By collaborating with a nonprofit agency, an after school arts program
or a place of worship, your business and artistic reach extends
through the organization's outreach. With good planning and execution,
your relationship can reach every customer and constituent--including
those that serve the organization (as volunteers, board members
and staff) as well as those who receive service.
Choose you’re nonprofit wisely, since you're aligning your
value and reputation with the real and perceived value of the nonprofit
or program. What sparks your humane and artistic perspective? Whether
your approach is analytical, compassionate or emotional, make sure
you choose a well founded and administratively sound, responsible
group whose mission is something you believe in. Ask questions.
Visit their web site, read annual reports and marketing materials.
Talk to supporters, staff and clients. Before offering to help,
make sure that the organization's philosophies are in accordance
with your own.
Choose your Gift
What can you afford to give? Perhaps it's a matted photograph or
watercolor for the nonprofit's lobby, a symbolic artistic rendering
or photographic depiction of the logo, a reprint or print series
for a silent auction, or an image to use on a greeting card to solicit
program funds. Or perhaps you're moved to teach, to help ignite
the creativity of the young or the aging that can't afford lessons
or supplies. Whatever your choice, you'll be making an impact--nonprofits
can benefit from help in a variety of areas.
Administrative service is also valuable. Time given to help develop
or deliver creative marketing strategies and arts programming gives
you meaningful experiences, connects you to business opportunities
and serves as a compelling addition to your portfolio and resume.
Once you choose an organization and define your gift as time or
a product, you'll want to meet with staff and possibly even board
or committee members to discuss ideas, needs and expenses accrued
during your service (travel, film, supplies, mats, etc). It's crucial
to you and the nonprofit to identify and determine the direction
and expectations of your service and anticipated results. It's just
as crucial to determine what won't work; be frank and honest.
Don't be afraid to suggest ideas and explore new possibilities.
Part of your gift is perspective and experience as an artist, while
the organization's gift to you provides new ventures, opportunities
and relationships. Together, you may discover a brilliant possibility
and plan that far surpasses any original expectation.
Donating your time and talents to a worthy nonprofit has multiple
benefits. Eyeing the business aspect early doesn't diminish the
gift. While seemingly self-serving, it serves the agency equally.
Just as you'll complete your commitment to the agency or program,
you'll want to ensure your gain and theirs are packed with benefits:
-->With the organization, develop marketing and communications
strategies early, and deliver them. Benefits of volunteer service
can be promoted in news releases, e-mails, newsletters, letters
or postcards, board and committee presentations, brochures, or annual
reports. If you're donating a matted photograph or art, you'll want
to ensure the organization can produce a high-quality digital replication
for their materials and the media.
-->As a result of your service, you'll discover new friends and
Associates - a new network and potential market. Keep a ready supply
of business cards to distribute; make sure you collect them, too.
Follow up with potential contacts and buyers.
-->Take a bow. Provide nonprofit or program staff with your bio,
background materials and contact information. Speak if you're asked.
This makes their work easier, and also has potential to increase
-->Maintain a record of expenses. Then collect any incurred,
based on your original discussion and agreement.
-->Don't forget about tax benefits. While tax laws are unwieldy,
change often and vary from federal to state, and state-to-state,
most charitable contributions are deductible. Tracking your time,
your tangible gifts and expenses is best done along the way. Be
sure and ask the organization for a verification letter you'll need
at tax time.
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