Eliane Markoff, President of Art in Giving
What prompted you to start ‘Art in Giving’?
Art in Giving started with a painting my daughter Rachel created. She was 8 years old and she drew it at the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana Farber as she waited for her many doctors’ appointments.
A few years after she passed away, my husband and I established The Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation. Its mission is to raise funds for pediatric cancer research and other initiatives to help families cope with childhood cancer. As we looked for a logo for the Foundation, I redrew and painted Rachel’s drawings, three flowers on a sunny day. Painting Rachel’s flowers was painful yet therapeutic at the same time.
As I continued to paint, I was encouraged to show my work at various venues such as the Wellesley Public Library and at Quebrada, a local bakery in Wellesley. Eventually, I moved my studio from my home to the South End Art District of SOWA at 450 Harrison Avenue in Boston. For many years, only the proceeds from my work funded our Foundation. Then an intriguing idea evolved as I got to know many of the fine artists in the building several of them expressing interest in my concept of connecting art with philanthropy. I then engaged thirteen other artists to participate in Art in Giving LLC. The artists have generously agreed to donate 50% of the proceeds of their art sold through the efforts of Art in Giving. The model for Art in Giving is to encourage organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, to use art to recognize their employees, executives, board members, trustees and honorees. This is done in the form of a piece of art chosen by an organization that reflects its core values, or in the form of an Art in Giving Gift Certificate which can be used to purchase art from any of the 14 member artists.
Scenario: you meet a business exec who is looking to fund a cause that has had enormous positive implications for the community. He wishes to offer $25,000 to a cause that is innovative in its thinking. He has 10 minutes available to speak with you. What do you share with him about your work?
I would explain how Art in Giving connects philanthropy with business and the fine arts. I would share with him the vision and hope we have in creating Art in Giving: that every organization use works of art offered by Art in Giving in any one of the following ways: to express appreciation to their clients, board members, employees, guest speakers, referral sources and others who played a role in the success of their organization as well as to beautify its physical surroundings. Art if Giving presents a unique alternative to gifts of pens, clocks or crystal bowls.
Artwork offers a permanent reminder of the honor and the organization that honored. If presented with an Art in Giving Certificate, a person enjoys the added benefit of experiencing a cultural journey of selecting a piece of art that has personal meaning to the honoree.
Fifty percent of the proceeds sold through the efforts of Art in Giving are donated to a private foundation that dedicates itself to pediatric cancer research in collaboration with nationally respected scientists and the Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation www.rachelmollymarkofffoundation.org
For most successful entrepreneurs, there is no typical day so give us a sample of your schedule from start to finish.
I check my emails and respond accordingly. I would most likely have at least one to two meeting(s) a day to present Art in Giving or to host someone at the studio interested in the program. I place a few phone calls as follow ups to meetings or presentations. I initiate a few emails on behalf of Art in Giving. I correspond with one or 2 advisory board members. I communicate with one or two artists. I always find time to paint glass or work on a painting when time allows.
What are your “can’t live without” apps on your desktop/cell phone?
Outlook, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel and FreeCell.
What are your tricks for time management?
Every evening, I identify and list the most important things I need to do and focus on accomplishing them the next day,
Best advice received when you started your career?
The best advice I received is to
- Do the right thing even if it may not be politically astute.
- Be honest with colleagues and do not say things you do not mean
- Have passion and believe in what you are working on. There will be challenges and disappointments both in life and in business. The passion will help offset some of these challenges.
Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for building awareness of your work changed for the short-term and long-term?
The current economic situation has been a motivator in becoming more creative in promoting Art in Giving. We position our company as a recognition company that offers organizations meaningful alternatives to the standard gifts presented to employees, clients, board members, referral sources and others. We will soon be targeting other markets including real estate companies, architectural firms, automobile dealers and wedding planners.
What’s been your proudest achievement as such an accomplished Entrepreneur?
- Getting the support of my daughter and my husband.
- Engaging several prominent Boston artists to participate in Art in Giving
- Engaging wonderful people to be on the advisory board of Art in Giving
- Securing my first clients and issuing 52 gift certificates to date
- Being featured in magazines and newspapers
- Being considered by Bill Brett for including in his book of Boston people.
What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?
Painting, Reading, walking, biking, listening to music, playing Pacman, traveling and solving Suduko puzzles.
Your top 3 book recommendations for our readers (and why?)
- The Kite Runner- very moving and very personal. No one in this life is pain free.
- To Kill A Mockingbird- the messages it gives us about life
- The Invisible Man- the message about motivation, creativity and survival
If you had an exceptional month and earned double of your average month, what (if anything) would you spend it on?
If it is money raised for the Foundation, I would sponsor more children to attend summer camps dedicated to children affected by cancer.
If it is through my consulting work, I would spend it on my daughter Audrey.
What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?
The Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation dedicated to helping families cope with childhood cancer. It is therapeutic and allows me to keep Rachel’s memory alive.The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare. I am passionate about compassion and have no tolerance for coldness and insensitivity.
Volunteering to help the elderly. I enjoy being with elder people and it reminds me of my relationship with my grandparents.
Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?
My husband. I also remember my maternal grandfather being always proud of any small accomplishment I had made. He empowered me to be confident
What’s your advice to someone interested in starting a business, especially within the arts?
- Believe in what you have to offer
- Have patience
- Do not take rejection personally
To learn more about Art In Giving, please visit its website via the link below: