You’re probably accustomed to people asking you to donate your art to this or that cause, but have you ever been on the other side? Have you ever been the one making the request for a donation?
There will come a time in your art career when you must ask for donations. Not just money, but also gifts of services or products.
Artists often find themselves seeking the following types of donations:
- Food or beverages for an art opening
- A/V equipment so you can run video in an exhibition space
- Graphic design work
- Talents of another artist in a collaborative project
I encourage you to ask for such donations because you don’t get what you don’t ask for and asking builds your marketing muscle.
Just remember these two guidelines when you’re requesting donations.
1. Your purpose should be very clear.
Whether you make your request in an email, a letter, on the phone, or on a crowdfunding site, be prepared to address the following quickly and succinctly:
This is what I’m asking for, and this is why I’m asking you for it.
You can’t approach potential donors with the attitude that you’ll take whatever you can get. You must articulate a scenario of events that they can see themselves buying into.
Unclear appeals for donations are ineffective. If potential patrons have no idea what you’re asking for or if it’s too difficult for them to respond, the answer is almost guaranteed to be No.
2. The benefits to the donor must be equally clear.
The biggest question you must answer in your donation request is: What is the benefit to the donor?
In a guest post on the Art Biz Blog last week, Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson described how she raised money to enter and attend Michigan’s ArtPrize by pre-selling prints of sections of her work that would be on view.
This is an unambiguous transaction: “You give me this, and I’ll give you that.”
You must articulate what the donor is getting in return for the donation. It might be signage at an event, an ad on your blog, a private party, a piece of your art, or any combination of things.
As you work on your benefits, remember how you feel when someone asks you to donate your art and promises only “exposure” in return. Exposure isn’t bad, but it has to be the right kind of exposure to the right audience.
Why would someone want to do this for you? What do you have that you can give in return?
Make it a no-brainer for potential patrons to say Yes.