Gary's Third Pottery Blog

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Gary's third pottery blog

WRITE TO ME! Come see me! Open studio HERE! November 25-26 (11-4 each day); Aurora Art and Design, daily until 12/24; Cooperstown Art Assoc. daily until 12/24; Ellis Hollow Community Fair, 12/10; December 10, Little Red Wagon at the Space at Greenstar. All material on this blog unless stated otherwise is copyright Gary Edward Rith 2016

Thursday, September 5, 2013

CHARITY: potters and donations!

People who are not potters think that empty bowls events are the best thing since sliced bread.
I have given pots to many of them, although I was rather dismayed at being asked to provide one such event with 30 bowls once...which would have been worth, what, 400-500 bucks or more?  I was a wee bit testy about that request.

But they keep on coming!  Local public radio and TV have been VERY nice to me, and I try to donate to their auctions etc. I listen to public radio day and night!  And they have provided connections that are VERY valuable.   Animal charities in this town never seem to pay attention when I try to get them to ask me for pottery donations, I would LOVE to give them some nice items to auction off or sell, no questions asked, anything to help them raise money!

But there are a LOT of charities around the USA that write to me.  I am wearying of them.  Obviously, considering what I just said above, I definately donate items.  But what if I have no idea who you are, where you are, why you asking me for work?  You might be worthy, but I need you to...well, prove yourself and your value to me.  It is an almost weekly thing here, strangers asking for something, and I want to be polite about it and this is what I wrote to one today, and will use something like it with STRANGERS in the future:

Hello, nice to hear from you, thanks!
I have heard many potters discuss donations, so hear me out, OK?  You might be surprised at the number of places that ask potters for donations: on average I get 2+ requests a month.  I wonder if those people understand that I qualify for food stamps myself, and that I earn less per hour than a person working at McDonalds.  We are told that events provide exposure, but do they?  People pay a donation and eat their soup and have a great time and the money helps the charity, but the potter is still struggling to pay the bills and nets nothing in the exchange.  Is the insurance company, the utility, the banker or realtor, are they all asked to contribute something?  Artists tend to be very poor, but rather than ignore donation requests, I have been trying to see how it can be turned positive.  
Before I ship you 2 bowls, costing me about ten dollars plus their retail price, can you explain what my effort gets me?  Is my card attached to the work, in the hopes that somebody may like the bowl and contact me to buy more?  Is there a brochure or website that markets my website?
I absolutely hope I do not sound crabby, but I really cannot spare the work or the money unless there is a good reason, thank you.  Gary Rith


cookingwithgas said...

I just have learn how to say no a lot.
It is amazing how many people ask for donations.
I love when they say, I have never been to your shop before.
And, we will never see them again.
We do donate to a few things, but we are very picky about who gets our work for free.
I don't think people realize they are taking income from us when they ask for a donation.
Straight up it is money out if our pocket.
We pay all the same bills that anyone has plus have carried our own health insurance for years.
Really, I would love if they would donate to me.

k.a. barnes said...

if they don't give you a good reason to give- if they can't make a case to compel you- if they can't show you how your gift will help what they do- then they're not very good at what they do and have not earned a donation! (Spoken as a professional fundraiser meself.)

~ Sil in Corea said...

That is a polite letter that you can use in a multitude of cases. You put it very well, since some people just don't get it. I'm guessing that they think you are some kind of "trust fund hippy," as we used to call them in Maine in the late 1960s-early '70s.

Hilary said...

I would think that when requesting your donation, they should be able to provide all that information at the same time. If they don't, I would simply say "thanks but I've met my quota for donations for this year" .. or similar.

Michèle Hastings said...

We get asked for donations on a weekly basis. Last year we decided on which charities where meaningful to us and they will get a donation each year... that's it, no more. We have churches that are 20 miles away asking for pottery for an auction! I think that is nervy. One, you aren't even in our community, Two you don't even know what, if any, religion we believe in.
30 bowls is a LOT to ask for. We donate a four or five to empty bowls each year. They are always simple bowls with little of no deco.

Lori Buff said...

You make a good point about donating to organizations that have more money than you do. It's difficult. I set a budget for donations, when I reach that I say "no, sorry." Also, I only donate to organizations I care about. We can't possibly donate to everyone that asks and we have to remember that one of the ways some these organizations raise money is by selling donor contact information.

gz said...

they just don't get how little makers earn from their work

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

Oh, believe me when I tell you musicians get this too. I can't tell you how many HUGE churches full of expensive decor, who pass the collection plate every single Sunday, expect musicians to play for free. My favorite was once when the very uppity church secretary (who I am suspecting WAS getting paid for her services) told us we should be playing "for the glory of the lord." My friend told her to try to suggest that to the plumber the next time the toilet in the rectory backs up.

I'm with you. I will happily donate my time and services to organizations I believe in. If I don't know you, you'd better be pretty convincing.

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I am a full-time studio potter, sculptor, and dog walker, married to superhawt Missus Tastycake.