Starting Your Own Nonprofit Organization
This may seem like a tall task, but starting an organization or even a temporary project can lead to a new income stream. The way I began my first business when I got out of undergrad school was to first send out a letter asking for money for what I was about to do. That means before I did anything other than have an idea to start a gallery, I thought about sending out letters to everyone who would be interested and asked them to support this idea. I will tell you more details, but essentially, you are producing something of value to everyone—a gallery, a temporary school, a public sculpture, or whatever it is—and you are asking people to give you funding for their own edification and pleasure. If that sounds large, bring down the scale of it to something more manageable. Once you decide on what you want to do—let’s say you are opening a nonprofit gallery—you have to find your audience, your mailing list.
One way to get a head start is to think about who has a mailing list of people you would like to write to. That might be a local museum or a newspaper or a local magazine. Now the key is this: how are you going to get that mailing list? Most people do not share their lists, but they are all open to deals. I was having a show once at a nonprofit gallery who told me they had proposed a mailing list swap with a major museum that they actually got. So even though a policy states that they do not share mailing lists, sometimes that is not the case. If you are about to launch an idea of any kind and need support, finding another related institution that is sympathetic will help. If you are starting a gallery as in this example, who could you work with and either get a list from or somehow “use” their list? Well, think about local wine merchants, food retailers, caterers, and framing shops. You may use all their services at some time, so they are potential partners for you to work with. You could begin by simply talking to the owner of each business and telling them about your idea and asking them to be part of it.
If you are starting a gallery that is not only about making a profit but have an educational or social mission, then you have an interesting idea that people may want to support. You can explain that you want to start this gallery, it will be called X, and you imagine that it will help the community to understand more about art and why it is important. Get excited about the idea as you are talking about it, and others will get excited too. The people you are talking to will have ideas perhaps, but here are a few.
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.