Episode 159 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Sending the Letter

Sending the Letter

Then I did much of what she said. I went to the art supply store, and I bought a few pieces of beautiful paper and an envelope to match. Then with a nice pen, I wrote out a letter explaining that I was having a show and that I needed $2,000 to complete the budget. She mailed me a check for $500. Then I sent her a thank-you note, also handwritten. Six months later, I asked her for funding again, in the same manner, and this time she sent a check for $1,000. Every time I asked for more, she gave me about 50 to 75 percent of what I was asking for. The amounts kept increasing. Now I count her as one of my regular patrons who gives me significant sums every year. What I have learned from her is that you have to build a relationship over time.

Sometimes I hear artists saying to me, “I know this person is a millionaire, and they could easily write a check to me for $10,000.” That may be true, but that is not how millionaires function, especially those with foundations that have to give in a responsible way. The way giving is done is in small amounts that keep increasing, and the reason for that is so the donor can watch how their funds are being used. Imagine you are a donor; wouldn’t you want to make sure that your money is spent wisely? If an artist asks you for $10,000, and she is a person without much money to begin with, how can you be sure it will be spent wisely? They might promise you the world, but the only way to know for sure is to give her a small amount of money first and see what she does with it. That is what you can expect from someone you write to that has a foundation, so expect that and ask for a small amount to help you build a relationship.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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