Creative tithing – giving thanks to the community that supports us

love plate by Hideminy - "creative tithing"
love plate by Hideminy

by guest contributor Shrie L. Spangler

There has been a lot said on the interwebz lately about a concept called “creative tithing”. As crafty business owners, we’re often so focused on making that paper and pushing ourselves and our own ideas that we forget to support the community that supports us. As Megan Auman touted in her Crafting an MBA post, “more profit = more to give”. This is an important phrase to grasp, because your crafty endeavor can only grow with the support of people just like you, trying to do the same thing you are… SUCCEED.

How does an independent business become profitable? Well, most importantly, from the money generated by sales. If you’re spending all your time and effort on growing your business but aren’t giving back to that same craft/indie/DIY machine that propels your biz, then you’re missing out on the big picture. Every small indie business owner has the same dream, and these dreams need customers in order to become a reality.

Seems simple right?

Cobblestone Heart Rubber Stamp by normajane - "creative tithing"
cobblestone heart rubber stamp by norajane

Some approach the creative tithing idea in a percentage form, taking 5% or 10% of their crafty earnings to pump back into independent sellers. Others strive to buy handmade for gifts or for themselves, investing in other artist’s creations as other’s invest in yours. By doing this you’re aiding creators in going for their dreams instead of wasting away at the desk job they abhor, and you’re allowing them more flexibility in their personal and creative lives to really work towards fulfilling that work-at-home creative goal. You’re validating the talent of an artist who may not necessarily feel that they’re so talented to begin with (and let’s be honest… don’t we ALL feel that way sometimes?). And in the end, you’re sparking a little bit of creativity in yourself, the whole process coming back full circle.

I Bring Only This by gumball grenade - "creative tithing"
i bring only this by Gumball Grenade

And Tara at Scoutie Girl makes a good point, saying “It’s commitment-meets-good karma-meets-the golden rule-meets-pay it forward all in one.” And it’s not all about money though… it’s about *hearting* other’s shops and works on Etsy, it’s about commenting on people’s blogs when their creations and artistic voice make you take notice. It’s about community and support, and communication, and LOVE. So just because you have a passion to make dog collars, or create custom embroidery pieces, or hang the halls of every house with intricate paper cuts art pieces doesn’t mean that your creative supporters don’t ALSO have a vision. Pour your soul into what you do AND what other people do, participate in a little creative tithing of your own, and you will reap the rewards tenfold.

About the contributor: Shrie L. Spangler is one of the latest Indie Fixx interns. When she’s not doing story research, coordinating projects and coming up with posts, Shrie writes over on her blog, Lo & Behold. She also writes at guerrilla candy and at another rainy saturday. And she’s got her own Etsy Shop. She’s one busy lady.


  1. Loved this post, love this blog! I quoted it and linked to it in my Thanksgiving post (which will be published at midnight tonight EST) because I think this is such a good message and just really well said. Yay to supporting indie sellers!

  2. This is such a great post and I live by this golden rule. If I want people to support my business then I have to support others who are independent like me. Thanks.

  3. Thanks so much for reminding us to support our fellow crafties. When money is tight it becomes kind of automatic not to shop, but you’ve reminded us that spending money in the right place is really like an investment in the handmade industry!

  4. Thank you for this! Especially for mentioning the non-spendy ways of tithing. I always try to buy handmade, but it’s definitely worth emphasizing that indie businesses need non-financial support too! The comments on blogs, the sharing of links, promotion of new collections, answering and asking questions, in general spreading the word can sometimes be *more* valuable to an indie business owner than a single sale.

    Thank you!

  5. This is a wonderful reminder of the positive ways to give back to our community!

    I try to support local businesses as much as possible (I read somewhere, though I can’t find a link now, that a good goal to start with is to pick 3 businesses you want to support, and make sure you spend at least $25 a month at each place), and am hoping to give only handmade this holiday season. There are always exceptions, but it’s important to put in the effort, and I really appreciate that you point out that sending love around can be just as positive as sending money.

    Thanks for the great post, Shrie and Jen!

  6. Beautifully said, Shrie – and thank you so much for including my link! I hope to see this message all over the place in 2011. A healthy ecosystem needs both producers AND consumers, and it takes so little to support another creative entrepreneur.

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