Art programs fueled by kindness on Giving Tuesday

Nonprofits across world benefit from post-Thanksgiving charitable campaign.

By Roberta Gedert / The Blade
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 20:05:41 GMT

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Logan Tegtmeier says it takes three consistent skills to successfully create his origami art pieces at Shared Lives studio: patience, precision, and memory.

“My dad taught me at 2 or 3 to make a paper airplane and I took it from there,” the 20-year-old Swanton resident said about his art.

Now Mr. Tegtmeier is one of nearly a dozen clients at Lott Industries who produces art in the studio, and one of more than 200 clients who, fueled by charitable donations from organizations and individuals on Giving Tuesday and throughout the year, have the opportunity to create art in classroom settings or in other artistic venues in the community.

“We could not sustain the Shared Lives studio without the support from the community, whether it’s from individuals, corporations or foundations, it’s the only way we can offer this program,” said Milva Valenzuela Wagner, director of development for Lott.

Organizations like Lott look ahead to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year for what’s become known globally as Giving Tuesday. The day was created in 2012 by New York's 92nd Street Y and the United Nations as a response to commercialism and consumerism. The goal was to encourage people to donate their leftover money to nonprofit organizations in their communities.

What began as a relatively small movement seven years ago grew to more than 150 countries by 2018. It’s one of the biggest events of the year for organizations like the Greater Toledo Community Foundation and United Way of Northwest Ohio, and it means a big infusion of funds for Lott. The group, like the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo and other non-profits, works with organizations such as the Center for Nonprofit Resources to find new ways to plead their cases to individuals and corporations who are determining where to spend charitable dollars.

The organization began offering mastermind series in 2017 as a way to “tap into the collective wisdom” of those who conduct fund-raising as a part of their non-profit organizations, said Heather Bradley, director of the Center for Nonprofit Resources.

“It has evolved from the early days of ‘how do I get a donate button on my website ‘now to really some very sophisticated discussions of ‘how does Giving Tuesday fit into an overall strategy for fund-raising?’” she said.

Arts organizations in northwest Ohio, both large and small, use Giving Tuesday as a platform to assist with cultural programming they provide to the community. The Toledo Symphony Orchestra, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Toledo Opera Association all have strong philanthropic arms.

The Toledo Museum of Art this year is seeking donations in support of its school tour program on Giving Tuesday. The Toledo Lucas County Main Library raises funds through its Legacy Foundation, the library’s non-profit charitable arm.

The library brought in $1.3 million in donation dollars in fiscal year 2018, which helps fund such programs as the institution’s Authors! Series, prizes for its hugely popular kids’ Summer Read program, and wish list items such as new laptops during library renovations, including for the $12 million overhaul at the Main Library on Michigan Street last year, said Kathy Selking, manager of library development.

“Charitable donations allow the library to bring a higher level of excellence to the community … [through] new programming, new technology, and new resources that the library wouldn’t be able to fund otherwise,” Ms. Selking said.

At Shared Lives, charitable donations have assisted art directors with implementing new programs and taking its clients outside Lott’s walls, said its assistant art director, Nancy Wineland.

“Charitable giving has let us expand our art program. We are now doing photography where we take individuals out into the community and into the parks to learn how to take photographs. We were able to buy cameras and [other] equipment,” Ms. Wineland said. “Because of the donations we are able to get to more people and serve those who were never served before. And what's really important is establishing a community contact. People see our artists out in the community and they are amazed by their talents and are welcoming, and our artists feel self worth.”

And Giving Tuesday isn’t just about the arts. Nonprofits of all shapes, sizes, and missions benefit from the event.

The Greater Toledo Community Foundation awards three $5,000 Giving Tuesday grants each year to local nonprofits: one small, one large, and one that participates in the annual Masterminds class. The foundation provides training for nonprofits and gives them the tools to make the most of the day of giving. Topics covered include how to use social media and effective marketing strategies.

Foundation President Keith Burwell recently told The Blade that Giving Tuesday is a great way to remember what the holiday season is really about.

"If you haven't spent every dime by Black Friday, we tell you to spend money on small businesses on Saturday," Mr. Burwell said. "Then Monday comes around and we tell you to go online and spend even more money on things you don't need. Then we finally get to Tuesday and say, 'Let's come back to where we started. Let's support those organizations in our community doing good work and make our community a better place.’"