How Nonprofits Can Collaborate With Artists, Besides Using Their Art

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The connection between artists and nonprofits is long and has, in many cases, been mutually beneficial. Take the internationally acclaimed artist Banksy, for example.

Although his true identity remains a mystery, he has used his art to benefit nonprofits several times. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he auctioned off a painting for £14.4 million (approximately $18 million) to support the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). 

The benefits for the NHS are obvious, plus the artist receives further recognition and credit. Of course, most nonprofits and artists cannot collaborate on this level, but there are many ways they can work together successfully. And it’s not just about donating art. 

Let’s explore how they can do this in a truly mutually beneficial way.

Pay the Artist

It’s a shame that the trope of the starving artist persists well into the twenty-first century. But there’s no need for this to be the case. The first and most obvious way nonprofits and artists can collaborate is to pay the artist fair compensation for their services.

This means more than just paying them for their materials. They’ve got to live, so it means negotiating a contract that sees the artist take away a fair amount for the work they put in. The contract should include the following:

  • Artist’s role and responsibilities
  • Payment schedules
  • Specific deliverables, such as artworks or events
  • Break clauses

By having a robust contract, the artist and the nonprofit know where they stand. If the collaboration is successful, it can pave the way for future projects built on trust.

Raise Awareness of the Artist

Of course, the goal of any nonprofit is to raise awareness of their cause. Yet, to entice the best talent to work with you, you must use your platform to raise their profile. 

This could include prominently featuring the artist in promotional materials and when the final project is completed. In addition, it’s a great opportunity to forge strong links with the local community, possibly through championing the work of as-yet-unknown local artists.

Portfolio Building

Artists live by their portfolios. It’s how they pitch for future projects and earn a living. A contract is needed to interact with any artist. The artist may allow the nonprofit to retain some kind of percentage of use of any artwork they create as part of your collaboration, but artists are encouraged to never give up their copyright.  This does not need to stop you from allowing you to use the work as part of your cause, as long as proper legal protections are agreed to before collaboration.. This can be an extra incentive that could encourage the artist to partner with you.

Leverage Media Platforms

Most nonprofits are masters of gaining maximum exposure for their cause. You’ve no doubt fostered strong links with local media outlets, including newspapers, TV, and radio. You can use spots and articles to spotlight the artist and expand their audience.

In addition to this, social media is a great way to reach a potentially huge audience and instantly raise the artist’s profile. Consider putting an “Introducing… [artist’s name]” post on your Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok to get their name out there and get your followers excited about the collaboration.

Introduce Them To Your Donors

Share the love. Be willing to freely engage your donors with the artist where everyone has the potential to benefit. Make giving an act of abundance by inclusion. There’s enough for everyone!

Give Artists Creative Control

Every artist needs commissions, but it means they may spend a lot of their time working on projects they are not necessarily passionate about. By giving artists creative control, at least to a large extent, over their work, nonprofits may be able to encourage collaboration. Additionally, some artists may be willing to offer a more competitive rate to be allowed the freedom to pursue work that inspires them.

Of course, the final product still needs to meet your brief. Ensure that everyone knows where they stand at the start of the process. As a nonprofit, you need to be able to offer feedback while allowing the artist to retain as much autonomy as possible.

Additionally, be open to the artist’s ideas, including those that take you places you’ve never gone before. The artist may have the inspiration your nonprofit needs to drive donations and raise your profile.

How Artists Can Help Nonprofits

There are lots of ways that artists can support the work of nonprofits besides giving away their art. This could include gifts of time or giving reduced rates for limited-time collaborations. Some ideas that raise awareness but are not too time-consuming could include the following:

  • Creating community artwork: Give up a Saturday to work with members of the community creating an art installation, such as a large mural.
  • Lead a workshop: Collaborate with the community by leading a one-day workshop that develops drawing, painting, photography, or other skills the artist has to share.
  • Create promotional materials: Put your stamp on flyers, billboards, logos, and social media graphics that the nonprofit can use time and time again. You could even collaborate on merchandising and apparel that raise awareness each time they’re worn!
  • Give a performance: Use your talent to entertain the public at a fundraiser, gala, or other nonprofit event. The nonprofit will benefit as your fans turn out in droves to see you, boosting income for them and raising your profile.
  • Ongoing volunteering: If you have the capacity, consider volunteering your time and skills on an ongoing basis. Part-time volunteering may be a more sustainable way of working than gifting works of art that are time-consuming and costly to create.

Making Artist/Nonprofit Collaborations Truly Beneficial for All

An artist donating a work of art to a nonprofit may seem like a tidy model, but the fact is that it rarely benefits everyone. Instead, innovative collaborations can ensure that everybody gets what they need.

Artists can live and thrive, earning a decent living doing what they love. Nonprofits show they are rooted in the community by promoting local artists. Finally, both parties benefit from increased awareness, which allows them to do more good in the future.

Every purchase you make at Art For Your Cause supports an artist and a cause. We do this by linking artists with customers, a win/win situation that gives you access to the most innovative designs out there.

Also, check out our nonprofit Causability, which is offering Artists Grants.

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