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  • Kate Lentz

{Running My First Art Fundraiser}

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a particularly rough day. The world is just so…bleak. I wanted to do something, anything to make it just a little bit better. So I decided to start an art fundraiser for the Black Lives Matter movement. To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. But more importantly, I didn’t even think anyone would be interested in my art. I had a goal of $100…even if it meant putting in most of that money myself. So here’s what I did:

First: Picking out an organization to donate to. I looked around for Chicago-based places and ended up finding two I really felt connected to. I decided to donate 100% of the proceeds from the drawings to The Triibe, a group dedicated to empowering the young black community to tell their stories through journalism, documentaries and creative writing. Then I decided to donate 50% of the proceeds from the paintings to Brave Space Alliance, A black and trans-led LGBTQ center dedicated to providing resources and programming to queer people on the South and West Sides.

Second: Making the announcement! I managed to find a free template in order to post something that looked nice on my socials. I tried to keep it simple with all the necessary information. Then I posted it on Facebook, IG and my IG stories. I also made another more detailed announcement letting everyone know that I would be posting a preview of some of the available pieces the week before the event.

Third: Sorting through all available work. This is part of the reason I came up with the idea. I have a ton of old work that I either get too scared to sell or no one actually does seem interested. So it’s just been collecting dust. I decided whatever doesn’t sell, I’d either paint over, try to redo or simply toss. I want a more simple body of work that reflects my current style and skill level. I then spend a few hours photographing everything in a “product” kind of way and let everyone know I’d be posting sizes and prices the day before the sale. This is when I actually had a couple of people reach out to me to ask about certain pieces.

Fourth: Ongoing Promotions and Updates. I Continued to promote every few days, just little reminders and links to the organization websites. The day before the sale, that’s when I listed the sizes and prices. I also had to set up an online payment option. I ended up setting up a Venmo the day that the fundraiser began and it was surprisingly easy.

Fifth: The day everything begins! I stayed on my phone for several hours to accept payments, answer questions about commissions, send thank you notes, and continually keep everyone updated online about how to participate. Any time I made a sale, I wrote down the person, if/how they paid, and whether or not I needed to mail or hand-deliver the artwork. I also kept a running total of how much was “pledged” versus how much money I had actually received.

Sixth: Keep the party going until the deadline. I provided several updates throughout the two days, but I never did give the actual total…Keep people guessing.

Seventh: The grand reveal! On Saturday night, I decided to give a “cut off time” just so I could officially make an announcement. I was so excited to let everyone know that we had raised $455! Not something I thought I could raise by myself with just my art. In the end, I decided to round up to $600 so each organization would receive an even $300.

Last Step: The fun really starts. So the rest of my weekend I sorted out the items that were sold, cleaned a few things up, started on the commissions, and now I am trying to figure out a way to write little thank you cards and how to mail out everything I need. I will be hand-delivering most of the pieces, but I also have a couple of things that will be mailed out. The addresses have been collected, so I just need to package everything up and do some last minute finishing touches. In the end, this fundraiser was way more successful than I could have ever imagined. Later this week, I will be officially donating everything and I think it’s just going to be an amazing feeling. It gave me a great taste of what it would be like if I actually had my own part-time art business on the side. It would be tough as hell, but I also think it would be quite rewarding. If I was able to balance out my schedule, I feel like it could be quite sustainable. We will see how this week goes with all of the extra work I have.

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