{Business Tips} When a Rising Tide Lifts all Ships

A couple years ago there was a conversation in the creative community around creative tithing (taking a certain portion of our creative incomes and supporting other artists’ and makers’ creative ventures with it).

Maybe with the holiday season approaching it could be a good time to talk about this again.

Tithing means giving 1/10th of something away and creative tithing means giving 1/10th (or thereabouts) of something away in support of what feeds our souls creatively. It is an act of expansion. We are expanding our own thinking about what is possible for us (ie there is more where this came from, a lot more), we are drawing something new and creative into our life and we are expanding someone else’s creative world, too.

This is not about charity. Supporting charitable causes we believe in is a good thing of course, but there is a kind of imbalance there that creative tithing doesn’t produce. It isn’t about someone ‘up there’ giving a handout to someone ‘down there’ because that would mean agreeing that the person/business you are tithing to is in need of your help and that is not what this is all about and not something you want to help create for them.

In fact, this kind of thinking can backfire on all of us.

I once saw a seller post in the forums about her lack of sales. For some reason her post stayed with me. I looked at her shop later on and could see that she probably needed to work on her technique before she tried selling her wares. But, the spirit had overtaken me and I went ahead and bought something and then I emailed my friend and asked her to buy something, too! I felt all good about myself until I noticed a week or so later that this seller had filled her shop with this item since it was now her “best seller” and this was not a good thing – I definitely had not helped her to expand.

There are many ways to do this –

that wonderful shop with the quirky little amazing pieces that make you smile (buy one and give it to someone else to make them smile or keep it for yourself), that author whose book meant so much to you (buy another copy and give it away) or buy that blogger’s ebook since you read all the stuff they write for free or maybe the person who put that craft show together where you met so many amazing people and learned so many new things – why not send her a piece of your work! There are as many ways to do this as there are creatives who inspire and support us.

I have been doing this with 10% of my profits since I started my business. You don’t have to work with 10% and you don’t even have to use money – although if we want more money coming in to our life letting some of it move out of our life (money is energy and needs to flow)  in a positive, intentional way can be a very powerful way to express gratitude for what we have been given and faith that there is more to come; lots and lots more.

I sometimes keep the dollar bills in an envelope because I think cash sends a message to my subconscious in a bigger way than numbers in my paypal account can (and I like the way it smells, I do, it is kind of a sickness).

Some time back I was tested on this in a bigger way. I came into a large chunk of cash from the sale of an old domain name. There was a big part of me that wanted to hold on to the whole thing; put it away for the ebb that I knew would inevitably follow this flow. I started telling myself that this wasn’t money my creative business had earned so it wasn’t subject to the same rules. I mean it was all fine and good to tithe 5 bucks here and 20 bucks there, but 10% of this was almost $200 (and this mama needed a new pair of shoes; boots actually).

I took a deep cleansing breath. Actually I took a whole lot of deep cleansing breaths (and because I live in New Jersey, I took some fast, deep cleansing breaths). I knew that I was very thankful for this unexpected money. I trusted that there was a lot more unexpected money out there for me.

I knew a group of girls that would benefit from a certain creative book that I had really benefited from. I bit the bullet and ordered 10 of the books.  About 3 hours after I ordered the books, I got an unexpected order for almost this exact amount. This has happened before.

Now, because I have put all this in print, I am guessing my next big tithe will not have such a boomerang effect, the universe has a sense of humor about things like this and of course, we can’t be sure anything like this will happen. The thing with tithing is not to be thinking about the 10% that is gone. Nothing has “been taken from us”; nothing has been lost. And if we have given that 10% in the right place and in the right way (and we will know that you have done this because it feels AMAZING), something new has just been magnetized into our life.

Money isn’t the only practice point with tithing and the amount doesn’t have to be 10% – we can also tithe our time, our goods, our knowledge, etc. For some people it is easier to give money than time – for others it is easier to give away their time than to part with any of their creative profits and I do think that maybe always doing the easier thing can dilute this a bit, so maybe try to do the thing that makes you uncomfortable and work with that at least once in a while.

I have found it most effective when I make it a practice (the kind of practice, that like exercise can’t not work if I actually do it consistently) – not when I randomly do something for someone else here and there. Spending our money and time consciously is a very dynamic thing and by making the decision to spend some of that money on the creative people that feed our soul – the whole world can expand (yes, we are that powerful!) –

What do you think?

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  1. Hi Tammy – yes, I agree- it is absolutely a pass it on kind of thing! Sometimes I just use enthusiasm and admiration as a practice point and tell someone whose work I love how amazing they are! Thanks Jamie – your blog is just gorgeous BTW!

    hugs- Cat :)

  2. This is a beautiful post. I truly believe “what goes around, comes around” – but it’s not always exactly how we think. It may not be equal in money, or time, but if you do something for someone else, and feel good about it, that’s a reward. If they do something for someone else because of it, and you never even know about it, it’s still being repaid somewhere in the universe. When a crafter I love puts out fantastic content for free all the time, I usually jump at the chance to support them when they have a pattern for sale or an ebook. (The bloggers over at gingerbreadsnowflakes.com & craftypod.com do the same thing monthly, featuring how they’ve supported makers of free online crafty content.) Thanks for a great read and I love that phrase “creative tithing”.

  3. Wow. I really, really, enjoyed reading this post. That you so much for taking the time to flesh out what you mean and feel about creative tithing. Really inspiring. So nice to know that there are people out there supporting others and growing themselves in the process. Thank you again.