As a Creative, you probably get more than your fair share of solicitation for your skills. Due to the nature of the creative mind, many of us have worked at or with non-profits and want to give back, but, as business people, Creatives also have to balance what is best for themselves and their brand. On one hand, saying no is hard. On the other, creative time is valuable and the number of requests can get overwhelming. How can you give back without killing your creative spirit?
Give it your all
It's easy to think about donating a piece that hasn't sold at your last several shows, but if nobody has bought it, ask yourself if it’s truly the best representation of your skills. Neither your ego nor your client list will get a boost if your donation fails to garner attention. Make sure you give away your best work. Attend the event, if possible, so you can talk to interested bidders. Ask the non-profit for contact information for people who bid on your work so you can do a one-time follow up with those interested in your work.
Be strategic about your donations
Decide how much you are going to give away this year and then plan out your donations based on your schedule and target audience. Is spring your busy season? Save your energy. Donate in the fall when your schedule is lighter or split your donations between specific events throughout the year. Ask fundraisers usual attendance numbers and demographics. Be honest with them about who your work appeals to. This helps your donations reach the right audience for future sales and gives you a solid business reason to graciously decline if you must.
If you don't have the time or resources to donate, consider joining up with a few other creatives. Contribute a short story to a charity book, a song to a relief-aid compilation, or small pieces of art that can be combined to form one unique piece. Collaboration often has a positive impact on an artist. Use the donation request as an excuse to work with friends, swap ideas, and push beyond your usual boundaries.
Work on the Sidelines
If you're not willing or able to make an outright donation of your work, make philanthropy an integral part of creative process. Buy materials from fair trade or environmentally conscious suppliers. Use recycled or reclaimed materials if possible. Send your stories to publishers that support women's rights or LGBTQ representation. Make films that skew away from stereotypes to present real, usually unseen relationships. Consider the companies you support. Every bit counts.
The thought of giving back shouldn't crush your creativity. Think carefully about your donations, work with others or out of the limelight, but make sure to share your very best. Creativity and philanthropy don't have to be mutually exclusive, and, if you approach your donation the right way, both your business and your work can benefit.
Harley Easton is a Renaissance woman dabbling in everything life offers. She's worked at a theme park, found expert witnesses, been a guest lecturer at a national museum, and worked with medical students. Putting experience and insanity to good use, she's become an author specializing in erotic, romantic, and speculative fiction.