Charity events, silent auctions and raffle ticket fundraisers can be great ways to raise money for worthy causes. People ask us to donate pottery to their charity events regularly. They’ve been asking for years, and I used to say yes every time.
But a few years ago, I started saying no.
It’s not because we get too many requests. Even if we donated one pot per week, that’s only 52 pots per year, out of the 6,000+ pots we made last year.
It’s not because people don’t want the art. People might not bid the full $165 retail price for a Cosmic Mug at a charity auction, but it would definitely help raise some money.
There is one main reason why I don’t donate art.
I believe people should support artists, not ask them for free art.
Put yourself in the shoes of an artist. Which would you rather have someone say to you:
“Donate to our event please. It will support a good cause and get your name out there.”
“I just bought your art!”
If I donate my art to charity, then it tells the charity that it’s okay to ask other artists for free stuff too. That’s the problem.
Too many artists struggle to sell their art for what it’s worth. I believe artists are some of the last people in society that we should be asking for donations. You would never ask a doctor, lawyer or banker to donate their work to a silent auction.
What We Do Instead of Donating Art
Instead of donating pottery, we just let our pottery be available for sale on store.cherricopottery.com, cosmicmugs.com and to our Patrons. Then, we donate a portion of the money to charities that we care about, and keep a public record here, to help keep us accountable:
You shouldn’t donate to every charity who contacts you. We don’t, because that would be impossible. Every time I mention donations, we tend to get a flood of requests.
Just this week, another person emailed us asking us to donate pottery to an event for their son, a 10 year old boy who is fighting cancer.
Stores like this are so sad. Of course it makes me want to donate! But giving art and/or money to everyone who asks isn’t sustainable. Business, like everything, requires balance (I told them we can’t donate pottery, but we’re happy to donate some cash instead.)
It’s not important to donate to everyone who asks. What’s important is that you stay open to the idea of supporting charities, and actually do it consistently.
We simply pick a few good causes, and then make sure we’re giving consistently. Then, when we have stronger sales or another good cause comes to our attention, we can give a little more.
Society works best when we all make an extra effort to be of service to others. Donating money might not be the best way to solve problems, but it helps, and it’s our way of giving back beyond just making art.