As an artist, it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly asking …for feedback, support, favors… but, at a core level, the arts are about giving and sharing stories and enriching the connection between your fellow humans, your audience. Your art will be more intimate, more thought-provoking, more saturated, and more thoughtful if you are in tune with what you’re feeling and with what others around you are going through. One of the ways to do this is to give back. To offer your time or your money or your wisdom or your services to those who may need a helping hand. There are many ways of giving back, such as donating to a charity, volunteering, fundraising, little random act of kindness, or simply agreeing to be a part of an organized fundraising event.
This doesn’t have to be a once-a-month thing, it can be an every day thing. In fact, if you adopt giving back as a part of your daily routine, it will become second nature. There’s a belief that after you do something for 28 days, you have formed a new habit. So find the little ways to incorporate some of these ideas into your life and I guarantee you you will be a more passionate, more intelligent artist than you ever were before plus you will have that many more experiences to inspire ideas for new art.
Paying It Forward
First on the list, and probably the easiest to integrate into your daily life, is the random act of kindness. This doesn’t have to be a structured thing, it is simply an awareness as you’re moving through your life to notice others around you who may need a boost and to take a moment out of your day to help them. Stopping on the side of the road to help someone in need, buying a friend’s lunch, doing something nice for someone who seems to be having an “off” day. Sometimes your everyday job (nursing, working with youth in need, animal rescue) gives back more than others and, for the rest of us, find the little things that don’t mean much to you but mean the world to someone else.
Often times, donating means writing a check and sending an impersonal white envelope through the mail, but donations can be an incredibly powerful way to give back (and don’t have to just be money). Consider donating to a cause that can have an impact on an issue close to you, personally. Perhaps someone you know has been diagnosed with a major illness; donating to these causes can help fund research for future solutions and you will feel a deeper satisfaction knowing that you donated to a cause you believe in. A quick internet search will show that there are many charities that support any of the causes you can think of. Find 2 or 3 that feel best to you and rotate donating to them in small amounts. Warning: this can become addictive and can lead to more and more giving.
Charitable giving without sending money:
- Donating your like-new clothes to The Salvation Army
- Buying meals for the homeless
- Donating books to your local library
- Recycling to raise money to donate
Local charities are always in need of the most valuable resource you can offer — your time. Volunteering is a perfect way to give back in your free time without affecting your budget. Getting hands-on at the local animal shelter or conducting an art workshop for homeless children or helping build a house for a family who just lost theirs… There are so many ways to turn a lazy afternoon into a productive chunk of time that will improve the lives of others around you.
Consider spending some time with:
- Special Olympics
- Church functions
- Vet offices and animal shelters
- Local YMCA
- Wildlife refuges
- Building houses
- Food bank
- Hospice care
Speaking on Behalf Of Others
A way you can give back every day is by thinking outside of yourself and supporting those who don’t have a voice in the conversation. You can represent animals and the environment, if these issues are close to you, by telling their story. You can support anyone who may not be in the room by sharing their viewpoint in order to help enrich the conversation. Social media makes it super easy to share stories, articles, pictures, and links for donation websites with your network of family and friends. Admittedly, not all of your friends are getting on Facebook to see pictures that may make them feel squeamish so use the powers of social media for good, not evil. Find the ways to support the cause and inspire others to help rather than sharing shocking pictures that may cause others to not listen to you and, worse, not want to donate to the cause for which you are speaking.
Serve as an ambassador for others:
- Adopting and fostering pets in need
- Raising your children to want to give back
- Peaceful protests
- Earth Day festivals
If you’re a planner, it would be nearly second nature for you to put together a fundraiser with a group of your friends. If you’re just wanting to help, there are so many fundraising efforts going on that you can take part in that combine volunteering and charity while also being a fun group activity.
- Walkathons such as Relay For Life
- Sponsorship 5k
- Food drives at work
- A DIY fundraiser in which you tell your friends “Hey, I will do this service for you if you donate to this charity.”
We all know volunteering and charity feels amazing to be a part of and there’s no reason why it has to be a once-in-a-while thing. With a simple awareness and wanting to make a difference (even in just one person’s day) giving back can be a daily part of your life that will inform your choices and outlook as a person and an artist.
Dear Reader: What’s your favorite way to give back? Do you have a specific charity you believe in or know a great team fundraiser idea? Leave a note in the comments and share with everyone!