From the Executive Director
A time of beginnings and new growth, spring is also annual fund season at The Drawing Studio. Once a year we ask you for a financial gift to support our work.
Some of you might be thinking, “What do you mean ‘once a year’? The Drawing Studio asks for money all the time.” It is true that participation at TDS often involves money in the form of tuition, fees, dues, or tickets, but these are similar to everyday business transactions—buying a pair of shoes or insuring your home. You purchase something of value to you and, in turn, support those who provide it.
But the annual fund is a concept unique to the nonprofit world. A gift to the annual fund is purely an expression of generosity and love. It is a statement of belief in and commitment to a mission of service that makes possible life changing experiences such as these:
A former student who came to us through TPD’s Gang Outreach Unit, and to whom we gave a scholarship to our Art of Summer program, came back this spring to tell us that he had completed high school, is now at Pima, and is getting ready to transfer to the UA to major in chemistry. Some of his friends, on the other hand, are in prison. Our Art of Summer program made the difference, he said.
A woman confined to a wheelchair told one of our OATS tutors that she’s waited 86 years to take a drawing class and now finally can because one of our senior outreach program sites is across the street from where she lives, and she can get there under her own power.
Three of our longtime students/Associates who deferred their artistic dreams until middle age have just proposed and had accepted in our gallery an exhibit of stunning pastels, many of which are already being professionally recognized through selection for shows and awards.
For the first time since 2008, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson have art instruction in all six clubhouses because of TDS—and TDS now has the potential to serve thousands of low-income youth.
None of these experiences would be possible without the generosity of many, many people contributing to the annual fund.
We are all weird about money in one way or another. I sometimes long for the simplicity of the for-profit business. I give you money, and you give me a sandwich or the promise of fewer wrinkles.
Instead, I live in the nonprofit world where asking for and being asked for money can be fraught with anxiety, ambivalence, and guilt. If we are charged with doing the asking, we procrastinate, plead ignorance of how to make a request, and/or simply “forget” to ask. If we are the one being asked, we procrastinate, distance ourselves from the need, and “forget” to mail the check or click the “donate” button. (At one time or another, I have done all of these, and more.)
It doesn’t have to be this fraught. It can be simple: If I deeply value the work an organization is doing, I have a responsibility to myself to honor my own values and support that work. A gift to support life-enhancing work is a gift to myself as much as it is to anyone else.
The size of a gift may vary with current personal circumstances. Some years, we may dig deep in response to more critical needs; other years we may be struggling to handle our own basic needs, and our gift is small. We may structure a gift so that it’s spread out, not all at once. (I myself have found that I am capable of a much larger gift—and happier with its effects on my budget—by making a monthly pledge that is automatically charged to my credit card.)
What is important is that we keep our values in action. And we don’t assume someone else will do it for us.