50 limited edition prints of her colourful Baby Elephant paintings are now available on her website. And, 50% of the sales from each one will go straight to Cool Earth’s rainforest-saving work, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
We got in touch with Tori to ask her a few questions about using her art to raise awareness of rainforest loss and the threat to these beautiful animals.
Visit her website at toriratcliffe-art.co.uk.
I started fundraising when I was 13 after I learned about the Amazon Rainforest and then simultaneously the destruction of it within the same geography lesson. I have a huge love and respect for the natural world and have a strong desire to protect and preserve it. What is happening to our wildlife breaks my heart, and the more I learn about it, the more I want to help. For me, a healthy planet is more important than becoming rich, ‘money is a tool, not a philosophy’. I think that’s where a lot of us go wrong.
A friend told me about Cool Earth, and I ended up researching them and their work. I’ve learned quite a bit about conservation charities through various collaborations with my artwork, and I always try and select the ones I feel that are most effective. I tend to favour the smaller more down-to-earth charities as I feel you can build more effective relationships and I also think there’s a transparency there that you might not necessarily get with the larger more business-like charities.
The fact that Cool Earth work with local communities to teach them that the forest could be of more value to them alive than dead was a key factor for me, that’s something I’ve learned is of key importance to the future of our planet’s forests – it’s all well and good purchasing land but you can’t guarantee it’s protection unless you work with the people living within it.
Social media has been a big factor in my success as an animal artist and for allowing me to spread the word about wildlife conservation. It works in two ways, firstly it provides a platform for me to reach out to like-minded people interested in saving animals and our planet’s wild spaces, but secondly it allows me to reach a new audience made up of people who might not be educated on the threats facing our wildlife but who are solely attracted to my page because they just like my artwork. Therefore my charity collaborations help me engage with a whole new audience through borrowed interest – this, in turn, provides the opportunity to spread awareness and encourage support from a larger group of people.
In addition, there are those who can’t afford a print, but they show their support by sharing my posts which helps me reach new followers and spread the message further. My charity collaborations are very much fuelled by those wonderful followers primarily on Facebook. Recently I did a fundraiser where I donated 100% of sales from one of my Tiger prints, and through the magic of social media managed to raise £500 in just 24-hours from 10 print sales. I think a lot of this is down to those like-minded people with similar desires to save wildlife – people really come together.
Offering to share and promote the collaboration through social media is very helpful as it enables us to reach a larger audience and raise more money. It’s also important that you have a good relationship with the person you are dealing with, I get put off if the person I’m emailing doesn’t seem engaged or enthusiastic with the collaboration (luckily this almost never happens!). The better my relationship with the charity the more likelihood of future fundraising collaborations between us.
I think the main reason I am able to rally up so much support is that I do such large donations. I see so many huge brands doing just a 10% or 15% donation of profits – not even from the sale price, just 10% of the profits! And I think wow, is that really the best that you can do? For me, wildlife is more important than money, so if I can give back to all those animals that I paint, then I will. I really think that’s the reason people are so willing to help because they know the motivation behind the charity collaboration is genuine and they want to show their support for that.
So if your motivation is to raise money, go big! You will be rewarded with respect from your customers and publicity from those who share your social media posts because they recognise what you’re doing and support it.