Best Foot Forward… Charitable Giving

Artists are often asked to contribute a piece of their artwork for a charitable auction of some sort. Requests may come every now and then, and, if like me you live in a small town, those requests may come monthly or even weekly.

I, like many of my peers, am a charitable person. In fact, as Megan of Crafting an MBA puts it, I may be one of those crafters who feels like I should not make a profit from my work (even if it is my full-time job and supposed to support me financially). Megan suggests those crafters work to make a profit and give it away if we feel funny about keeping it. At least we won’t be selling ourselves short. What a great point.

So, over the past few months I have been asked to donate this or that to help such and such an organization. The first of this year came from an Empty Bowls project out of Sylva, NC to help support the Community Table. Potters are all aware of the Empty Bowls movement to help raise money for the hungry and so of course I was immediately receptive and offered to donate a few bowls. Next came a woman I had ever met before in my life. She claimed to be a Pincu Pottery Facebook Fan and proceeded to look around my shop. After buying my smallest item, a condiment dish, she told me about the woman’s organization she is involved with, Zonta. They were having an auction to raise money to help children in the county south of mine. Hmmmm…. well, I like to help children and the icing on the cake – SHE BOUGHT SOMETHING! So I gave her a gift certificate for a class at my studio. I believed her Zonta story and wanted to help. I really liked that she bought something, so she wasn’t just randomly begging for a free gift but actually liked my work.

Charitable giving does many things. Firstly, it helps out community – and one of my goals in life is the help make things better – a better place to live; happier, healthier people; safe environment, etc. That is the altruistic side of giving. The other side is just as valid, and may make me a bit squeemish, but really shouldn’t – and that is that giving your art away for a good cause gets your art out into a world that may never have come in contact with it before. You find new customers that way, and you make your old customers feel proud that they support a charitable person.

As I was saying, I like giving to the community and so I ‘teach’ giving to students in the Heritage Arts program at Southwestern Community College by asking them to participate in giving. A local land trust involved in saving our beautiful area from development of vacation homes, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, hosts an annual Local Foods Gala dinner to help raise money for land preservation in my area of WNC. Ceramics students and teachers at Southwestern Community College participate by donating tumblers to be given away as a thank you gift to those attending the event. This is a great opportunity for students to show off their work and for the public to see and use a handmade cup. Maybe someone who has never used a handmade cup will become a convert and spend the rest of their life seeking new potters to buy from!

I am also a collector of pottery, just as many artist are collectors of art, either their own medium or another. I find charity auctions a GREAT place to purchase art from potters around the world. Why not give to a charity while collecting great art? win win, if you as me!  I remember those artists that gave, and will buy from them in the future.

A charity I have donated is currently online for a preview to the auction that begins September 21 and runs through the 27th.   This one is to raise money to help Drew, a college student at U of F studying ceramics who was severely injured in a motorcycling accident. He lost his leg, and in return has found a large bill waiting to be paid for hospitalization and prosthesis. As a fellow UF grad, potter and humanitarian, I sent a teapot to the online auction to raise money to help offset his bills. Please consider browsing those objects on sale in the Best Foot Forward auction and purchasing a pot or artwork to help support your collection and Drew’s future.

I write this for those making art and those buying art. Most artists work hard and barely make a living, yet we still give for all those events out there trying to raise money to better the world. I hope that you appreciate the effort and thank an artist by buying from them every now and again. Helping support an artist is like helping support the community! And you artists out there, don’t forget to give to those organizations that mean something to you, or to the respectful person  that buys something before asking for a donation to their cause. Its a great way to market yourself and the handmade!

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