Business of Art | The Belated Artist’s Guide to Designing Your Own Earned Income & End-of-Year Fundraising Opportunities

Business of Art | The Belated Artist’s Guide to Designing Your Own Earned Income & End-of-Year Fundraising Opportunities

Nine tips and ideas to boost your end-of-year art sales and fundraising activities.

Whether you are an independent artist interested in selling work, fundraising for a specific project through a fiscal sponsor, or nurturing relationships with your network, the holiday season is ripe with opportunity. There is plenty of time to boost your end-of-year art sales and fundraising activities with these tips and ideas:

  1. Partner with a friend. Working with a colleague to host an event not only builds your personal connection but also expands your own audience. Consider opening your studios for a happy hour event, or hosting an afternoon table read or rough-cut screening next month. To keep the atmosphere casual, offer suggested donation levels rather than formal tickets. Be sure to have artist bios, business cards, newsletter sign-ups and salable goods from past projects on hand for your audience.    
  2. Remember, keep it simple! Rather than starting from scratch, consider how past and current parts of your practice might already present ways that can be used to generate revenue. For example, release a teaser based upon a work-in-progress, or maybe offer a “year end discount” on the tote bags you printed last March. 
  3. Is IRL (In Real Life) Overrated? Creating online experiences to share with your family and friends is a method of marketing your artwork to audiences both near and far. Consider creating an online holiday marketplace through your newsletter or blog. Or perhaps stream a live performance or offer a free art download to your website visitors. Online content not only bridges geography, but allows your supporters to connect with your project on their own schedules. 
  4. Multiples! Creating an edition of salable objects or hosting several ticketed screenings or performances for live work is a time-honored way for artists to sell their work. Multiples transcend disciplines, including everything from jewelry, textiles, 3D-printed objects, contemporary artist books, and beyond!
  5. E-Commerce Tools & Resources. It’s old news that online tools are powerful solutions to helping you build, engage, and follow up with supporters. Website-building platforms such as Squarespace or Weebly offer shopping cart functionality, while Etsy is a marketplace for online sales. PayPal and Square both offer options for online sales and in-person sales, while EventBrite assists with online ticketing. Perhaps the best part is that an online sales portal can be generated in less than an afternoon’s time. Remember, the option that works best for you is the one that meets your project’s goals. 
  6. Step Up Your Social Media Wizardry. Did a friend of a friend of a friend turn out at your gallery opening this year? Add them to your email list! Did your dog walker cheer you on at Open Mic night? Another opportunity to build your support network! Your network, your audience, your communityhowever you refer to these supportersthey are an essential part of an artist’s ecosystem. To maximize your reach this holiday season, hone your social media marketing strategy with this refresher! 
  7. Follow-up thank you notes and emails. An essential component of courting supporters is to let them know their incredible value. Whether they are attending events, buying art, or donating materials, time, or funds to a campaign, a simple thank you goes a long way in nurturing this valuable support. Along similar lines, be sure to make note of anyone who expresses interest in your work, even if they are unable to purchase art, buy a ticket, or donate to your fundraising campaign at this time. Knowing who these folks are will be helpful for future marketing and fundraising efforts!  
  8. Already Fiscally Sponsored? Incentivize end-of-year contributions from your donors by offering a limited edition holiday perk when a donor contributes to your project, such as a pair of tickets to an upcoming performance. Generate “donation levels” for contributions of different values and offer unique perks for each giving level. If you’re Fiscally Sponsored by NYFA, you can easily create a customizable buttons for this dynamic income processing!
  9. Working on a public benefit project, but not Fiscally Sponsored yet? Sponsorship offers folks who donate to your project the benefit of a tax-deduction, since Fiscal Sponsorship is an administrative and fundraising tool that allows individual artists and emerging arts organizations the ability to raise funds using NYFA’s tax-exempt status as a 501©(3)-classified organization. Learn more about NYFA’s Fiscal Sponsorship program here.

– Madeleine Cutrona, Program Officer, Fiscal Sponsorship

Learn more about NYFA Fiscal Sponsorship by clicking here. Questions? View our FAQ page here. Sign up for our free bi-weekly newsletter, NYFA News, for the latest updates and news about Sponsored Projects and Emerging Organizations.

Image: Still from The Desert Walk Video, part of Yoon Cho’s The Walk Project (Sponsored Project); performance, animation, and video by Yoon Cho; more information here.

Amy Aronoff
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