n. money (from visualthesaurus.com)

One of the most challenging activities for many (most?) artists and arts organizations is ASKING FOR MONEY, particularly from individuals.  Throats seize up, palms sweat, we lose our train of thought and even forget to ask.  This spring, ArtSpark joined up with Margo Chamberlain (a champion arts philanthropist who also has a very positive relationship with money) to host two conversations on how artists can jump-start their relationship around asking for money.  What surfaced was quite illuminating, including each participant’s deeply-held beliefs about the power and evils of “good ol’ cash,” particularly as it supports artistic work and creativity.

We also had a lively dialogue about how we view and interact with individual philanthropists – are they donors or investors?  Here are a few ideas that surfaced:

  • A donor gives for the joy of making something happen in the world
  • An investor receives something in return for their support
  • A donor is somebody who “gives blood”… something more physical, life giving
  • An investor is tied up with the ideas of banking, the stock market, a portfolio
  • A donation seems like a one-time thing and an investment seems like almost the opposite
  • A core group of investors are part of your team, so nurture and build relationships with them
  • It is no small thing to be an investor, and no small thing to ask
  • “To who much is given, much is required.” How much am I willing to give, in being the caregiver of funds?
  • Check in with donors/investors and ask them what they want
  • What are our own criteria re: an ideal investor:  what do we need, want, and how can we give back?

Food for thought, certainly.  What do YOU believe and how does asking for money work for you?