The Art of Lending a Hand

I walked into a downtown coffee shop to see red walls and chestnut brown tables throughout a small area. The sound of small-talk filled the air along with the smell of coffee and a hint of vanilla. Something interesting about this particular cafe is the amount of art it had displayed, but this is more then a simple decor choice, it’s for a cause. Nonprofit groups and organizations that work for social change are constantly seeking new and effective ways to raise funds. Using art to raise money is one way to accomplish this and the York, ME hospital has chosen this route. They have partnered with a local coffee shop by the name of Caffe Kilim who will be assisting with the hospital’s efforts by the displaying the art on their walls. All ages are welcome to submit their art with the knowledge that all proceeds are going to York Hospital’s Pediatric Treatment Center.

This fundraiser wasn’t something that the cafe was passive about either, they really wanted to help. They were quick to point out the art and did so with a smile. When wanting donations for a fundraiser, it’s important to present the cause to your customers in a way that appears as an exciting purchase opportunity you’re offering others. This wasn’t an ordinary coffee shop for a variety of reasons. The atmosphere was one that I had never seen before and it’s owners, who were running the shop, were completely genuine–York Hospital made the right choice.

I looked around and saw myself surrounded by wooden floors, wooden walls, wooden chairs, wooden everything. There was  a mammoth sofa, a gigantic tea table, and small tables that were each surrounded by two or three chairs. It almost felt more like a living room then a coffee shop. Turkish music played quietly in the background and set an atmosphere of relaxation with a taste of the exotic. The art on the walls were all extraordinarily abstract, they fit well with the rest of the shop. Although the art was not personally my taste, there was something that I very much enjoyed about it. I enjoyed  that it was evident the artists who participated did not donate the worst, least significant, or most outdated piece they had lying around. Each donated piece reflected positively on the artist’s level of generosity. Caffe Kilim’s owner, Yalcin Yazgan,  was born and raised in Istanbul Turkey where he grew up helping his grandfather run a small coffee shop. Today he run’s his own coffee shop and his happy to serve his community in any way he can. When asked about York Hospital’s decision to ask him for permission to hang the art he stated, “Yeah, I was very happy they asked me. It helps the kids and it gets our name out there so it’s a win win.”

A very important aspect of raising money is getting the word out. If no one comes to your auction or fundraiser, you will in turn not make much money. In addition to letting your regular supporters know about the fundraiser, you will want to hang up flyers, send articles to your local newspapers and ask radio stations for non-profit air time. I discovered this particular fundraiser through my town’s online newspaper, so clearly the hospital was doing an adequate job. What other marketing strategies do you have for letting the word out about fundraisers or auctions? Do you think there are some avenues that are better than others?