Working in both the arts and in a charitable non-profit, I’ve come to realize that self-producing artists and non-profits are very much alike. Each has a small but passionate staff (if any at all), each has a lack of basic resources, and each is often strapped for cash.
Frankly, I’m surprised those two entities don’t pair up more often. Both have something the other needs and desires—the biggest is social proof, a principal that Dr. Robert Cialdini writes about in his New York Times Best Selling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
- Social Proof. People show themselves to more willing to take a suggested action if they see evidence that others are taking that same action. A charitable organization looking to replenish their older donor base with a younger one might try to align themselves with a hip, new artist. If hip, new artist endorses the charitable organization, then the organization can use that endorsement as social proof in marketing materials and will be more successful in bringing in younger donors. On the other side of it perhaps the hip, new artist is looking to reach a new, older demographic with the impending release of their newest studio album. Charitable organization happens to have a constituency base that reaches some of that desired demographic. By endorsing and playing a concert for charitable organization; hip, new artist gets its own endorsement from the older crowd they wished for and can use this to show other groups of older audiences that their music is worthwhile and enjoyable. Charitable organization and hip, new artist both create a buzz around their respective work and they both win.
For charities, a supportive artist can be a dance troupe, a semi-famous actor, a writer, a painter, a sculptor, a chef, or a aerialist.
For artists, your alliance with a charity can pulled directly from the relevance in a theme in your work, or you can choose to ally yourself based on a personal passion.
A lack of fame does not preclude either the charity or the artist from offering themselves as a partner. However, the further down on the proverbial totem pole you are, the more difficult it can be to get an organization or an artist to pay attention to you. But don’t be deterred. As long as you’re doing great work, your heart is in the right place, and persistence is an active component of your mission statement; you will be rewarded with some semblance of success for your efforts.
Artists looking to align with organizations,find out which charitable organization your friends and family support. Do any of them have sway inside of the organization? If you’re looking to get involved on a deeper level, you can look at www.boardassist.org, or www.boardnetusa.org—two organizations designed to help emerging leaders find a board of directors with which to serve on.
Charities should start locally with their pursuit of an artist alliance and then branch out globally. A dance troupe, a local actor, a writer. Set up Google alerts for people talking about your cause, specifically celebrities. Reach out to their agent or publicist with a well-crafted pitch. Hope for the best, and plan for the worst. Rinse and repeat.