The Gift That Keeps Giving
Art in Giving, LLC, a nonprofit group created by alumna Eliane Markoff, '79, allows others to buy fine art as appreciation gifts and help fund children's cancer research.
November 29, 2011
Boston College Carroll School of Management graduate Eliane Markoff is on a mission. Her nonprofit group Art in Giving, through its sole member, the Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation, allows business and other professionals to purchase and give original artwork, to their clients, partners and employees, knowing up to half of all proceeds will help fund pediatric cancer research.
Although the end result is philanthropic, the business strategy is to target budgets directed at recognition and rewarding of employees, board members and clients, rather than the line items dedicated to charitable giving. While the Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation was founded 13 years ago, Art in Giving is now in its 3rd year and is gaining momentum. Board members, CEOs and politicians have received or purchased art from artists participating in Art in Giving and now hang the artwork in their lobbies, conference rooms and homes.
A growing number of artists are featuring their work through Art in Giving, bringing the number of studios and galleries to 20 with a waiting list for next year. The featured art is also becoming more varied — paintings, prints, sculpture, and jewelry, ranging in price from $25 to over $6,000 and from prominent, well-known artists to those who are emerging and new. “We've had a tough time with the recession, like most for profit and nonprofit groups, but things are starting to build again," she says.
Humble and slow beginnings
Markoff's nonprofit group began following a tragic event: the loss of her own nine-year-old daughter to a rare form of cancer. Markoff painted her way through her grief and found it to be therapeutic. As her painting collection grew and her community complimented her talent, Markoff realized she could sell the artwork and use the proceeds toward funding pediatric cancer research. Soon other artists joined which expanded the offerings and Art in Giving was born. "Forming a nonprofit in honor of my daughter who passed was the only thing I could do," she says.
Markoff is proud of Art in Giving’s success and its pivotal milestones. In 2005, the Boston Private Bank bought 50 prints of Markoff’s own impressionist, vibrant painting (entitled “Flower for Hope”) as client appreciation gifts. "This became the turning point," she says.
When Vicki Kennedy, wife of Ted Kennedy, was honored one year, Markoff gained permission to donate art to her. Another year, an Emerson Investment Management firm purchased several paintings from Art in Giving as client gifts. Recently, Sanofi-Aventis, the global healthcare company, honored its chairman with a painting from an Art in Giving participating artist. In December, Markoff will be honored by the nonprofit Advancing Women in the Business of Science and Technology (W.E.S.T) in their giving back to the community holiday party awards. In June 2012, Art in Giving is partnering with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra in Boston for one of its quarterly fundraising concerts.
Markoff says recipients of the art are generally delighted. They love the art itself, find it meaningful that a significant portion of the proceeds go towards pediatric cancer research and are pleased to support the arts.
How the Carroll School MBA helped
Markoff thought she would become a lawyer and never expected to pursue her MBA degree. She’s glad now she did and believes the training she received through the Carroll School helped her especially in launching her nonprofit group.
Markoff grew up in Cairo, Egypt and first encountered the Carroll School when working as a Boston-based mortgage analyst. When visiting the Carroll School, the dean at the time invited Markoff to attend a few classes, and right away she felt at home and connected with the students. “Everybody was very warm and bright," she says. Markoff applied and was accepted, majoring in management and finance.
Markoff loved everything about her studies and feels the Carroll School gave her a huge confidence boost. She went on to teach management at Bentley College, was a consultant at Lucent Technologies and spent almost two decades at Digital Corporation as a program and technology assessments director. “After my MBA, I felt I could program, manage people, motivate people to take the right actions and build consensus," she says. “It was empowering."
For all of her career success, Markoff's heart remains invested in Art in Giving. Her MBA skills provide her with the skill set to apply for grants, raise more capital and market the organization. This year she hopes to make more progress, not just with the concert, which will give her exposure within the healthcare industry, but also by hiring a business development director and an executive director. “Art in Giving is an amazing story,” she says.