When Meenakshi Sinha started painting three years ago, she had no idea she would raise more than $40,000 selling her artwork. Meenakshi runs The Giving Canvas, a Facebook page where she auctions her paintings online and donates the proceeds to causes she is passionate about. When she heard about the needs teachers face in the classroom, she decided to auction a painting to support them with AdoptAClassroom.org.
We reached out to Meenakshi to learn a little more about The Giving Canvas and how her project made an impact for teachers in her community.
AdoptAClassroom.org (AAC) Why did you start The Giving Canvas? Did someone or something inspire you?
Meenakshi Sinha (MS): Many people in my life inspire me, but my mother’s creativity, generosity, and drive to help others is my greatest inspiration.
I took up painting one year before I started The Giving Canvas. The first few paintings I made I displayed in my home, but I decided I didn’t need any more. I thought it would be a good experiment to sell my art to benefit nonprofits. After running a couple of successful auctions from my personal Facebook page, I felt confident to create The Giving Canvas as an ongoing art auction for charitable causes.
AAC: Since then, you’ve raised over $40,000. Were you surprised by the positive response in your community?
MS: Yes, I am surprised by the response! I had just started painting when I launched The Giving Canvas and didn’t know of any other similar models. My community was not only encouraging, but also incredibly generous.
I have only lived in Washington for four years, but I think people intrinsically care deeply for their community and love art. The Giving Canvas provides a way to combine their love for art with giving back, and I believe that is the driving force for the platform.
AAC: What has been most exciting about the response you’ve received?
MS: It’s exciting to see the impact of my community’s combined efforts. I get the chance to connect with the caring people who buy my art, and see the joy on their faces when they see the painting in person for the first time.
As an artist who is still learning how to paint, it’s also exciting for me to try different tools, mediums, and methods in my artwork.
AAC: You’ve given to many nonprofits. Why did you decide to support a teacher with AdoptAClassroom.org?
MS: Supporting a teacher means investing in our kids’ education—in their future and our future. It’s sad that so many teachers don’t have sufficient resources to provide the education our kids deserve.
When I read what teachers and students needed on AdoptAClassroom.org, I knew I had to do something to help. I have supported two classrooms with AdoptAClassroom.org so far and will continue doing so.
AAC: Did you know, on average, teachers spend $740 a year of their own money on supplies for their students? What is your reaction to that?
MS: I did not know that the amount was so big. It is shocking and very sad. Teachers generously make up for the lack of resources with their own money, but it isn’t fair to them. Teachers already invest so much in the kids, they shouldn’t have to pay for supplies, too.
AAC: A lot of people want to make a difference, but don’t know where to start. When you first started, how did you get the word out about The Giving Canvas?
MS: I spread the word with my own Facebook friends and in a local neighborhood Facebook group. On social media others can share your post and spread the word with you.
AAC: What other advice would you give to someone who was interested in fundraising within their community?
MS: Be creative! It’s easier to fundraise when what you’re doing is fun. I found a way to use my interest in painting to make a difference.
If you have the time, people like to receive something when they donate money—whether it’s art or baked goods. What you want to offer is up to you (even a simple thank you is nice!), but the main thing to remember is every little bit helps.
Whether you help a teacher buy a few books or set up a new library, together our efforts multiply and make a difference for students across the country.
You can see Meenakshi’s work by visiting The Giving Canvas.
You don’t need to be an artist to make a difference for teachers and students. Want to know more about how you can connect with others in your community to help? Check out more fundraising tips here or find a classroom to support.