What We As Creatives Can Do Now
Andrew Dickson / WNW Member
This is not normal. We are in uncharted territory, and we need to fight.
We can and should march, protest, preach, call our representatives, stand up for what’s right, create meaningful words and images and experiences, hug our loved ones, look out for our non-loved ones, and probably make sure we have plenty of extra water and food and an emergency plan. That goes for everyone. But there are a few things those of us who are part of this particular creative community can do.
We can be deliberate about how we spend our money, and with whom we work. I’d like to share a few thoughts on doing both.
Let’s give to the organizations we believe in.
We are lucky in that we get paid very well to do what we do. We’re probably all in the top 1% globally. We can use what we make to make a difference. Personally, I love giving away my money. Hopefully you do too, but if you’re relatively new to it, here’s a quick primer.
First, take a deep breath. It’s not going to be easy. That’s because there are thousands of non-profits in this country doing incredible work day in, day out. On the one hand, you want to give to everyone, but on the other, the fewer places you give, the more you can give to each. So, put a little thought into what matters to you most.
Make a list of the values and communities and things you want to protect most. I know. It’s probably a long list. Circle what you are most passionate about and what you fear is in the most jeopardy. Now, what are the organizations working hardest to protect and promote those things? If you’re not sure, reach out to friends that you trust. They will be thrilled to help. Then come up with a number that you’re comfortable giving this year. Keep in mind that most churches ask members to give away 10% of their income, while Target gives away 5% of its profits.
What can you do? Got a number in mind? Good. Add a zero, or at the very least, double it. Because really, if there was ever a time, isn’t this it? Plus most of these wonderful organizations are tax-deductible, so you’re going to get 35 or so percent of what you give back in tax refunds next April. You can give a lump sum, but consider becoming a monthly donor. That way you don’t get one huge credit card statement, and organizations can plan for growth, rather than figure out what to do with a windfall on the fly. So. Give. Give. And give some more. It will make you feel good!
Oh, and be sure and check to see if anyone will match your donation. Many companies have an employee giving matching policy, instantly doubling your donation. And given these times, some agencies are even extending this to freelancers. (Shout out to Instrument for matching my ACLU donation at 100%!)
Be thoughtful about what you buy.
Every purchase is a chance to vote with your wallet. From the car you buy or share, to the shoes you wear, to the coffee you drink. It’s complicated. There are layers. There are what companies are saying and doing, which venture capitalist invested in them, to where they invest and contribute their money, to what their board members do and stand for and on and on. Don’t overthink it. If a company is doing and saying what feels right and are living values you believe in, support them. If they’re not, don’t.
And if you don’t, don’t expect that they will notice. You have to tell them. I just wrote a very painful letter to one of the Oregon U.S. House Representatives. While I don’t live in his district, I told him that because he’s on the committee that will be dismantling the Affordable Care Act, causing tens of millions of people to lose health care, and because he is standing up for a ban that prevents carefully vetted refugees, and engineers, and moms and dads and kids, from entering our country, I will no longer travel to his district, a full two-thirds of my state, for vacation. I love those two-thirds of the state. I vacation there two or three times a year. And I know there are great people there, especially in the tourism business. But I don’t want to spend my money in a place whose highest elected official stands for fear, hate, and discrimination.
I also told him that despite creating a very successful state tourism campaign (which brought his region untold tourism dollars and jobs) that I won’t take on any new work promoting tourism in his part of our state. You know why?
We get to choose who we work for.
“No” is one of the most powerful words in our freelancer’s bag of tricks. We can say, and should say “no” when a company or agency asks us to work on a brand we don’t believe in. For me, that means if a certain social media site that empowers trolls 140 characters at a time calls, or a certain ride sharing platform that stood by their drivers too little too late wants me to help them again, I’ll say no. And I’ll explain exactly why I’m saying no. How about you? Who won’t you work with anymore?
On the flip side where do you want to work? Because, remember, we get to choose who we work for. We don’t have to sit around waiting for the call or the email. We can reach out to the organization we want to help. As far as nonprofits go, we can, and should, donate money. We can also attend galas, and sponsor a table, offer to phone bank, or stuff envelopes.
But we can also offer up what we do. We can help them define their mission, better craft their logo, improve their social media strategy, and find donated media placements. The smaller and more local, the more likely they can really use our help.
We can also reach out to our corporate clients. We have allies there. Many of them are as worried and terrified and ready to stand up for what they believe in as we are. Many of them are speaking out and standing up. More will. We can help them communicate their positions. We can let them come up with ideas that leverage their power and influence. That’s what we do. So let’s reach out and make the first move. Now. Who’s with me? I’m starting with Starbucks. Mr. Schultz, I have a few refugee recruitment ideas I’d like to run by you.