Pippco, Inc. Partners with Art of Giving Foundation To Ignite Change
By Sara Freitag
Art ignites change.
In 2013, Autumn Pippenburg—founder and CEO of Art of Giving Foundation, founder and CEO of Art on the City, co-founder of Civic Tees, and overall entrepreneurial extraordinaire—had an aha moment during which she realized it was time to give back. She quickly sought out a charity to work with and began visiting children at an orphanage called Los Quinchos in Nicaragua.
And she just kept going back.
Pippenburg would bring duffel bags full of all kinds of things, including clothes and shoes as well as nail polish and hair stuff for the girls. In 2019, an issue arose with the orphanage’s water supply system, and the philanthropist got down to business, problem solving with her diverse skill set, wide network, and the immense strength of her caring heart. It was going to cost upwards of $30,000 and simply asking for $50 here and $100 there wasn’t going to cut it. She was already out of time as it was. Pippenburg reached out to her friend Tony Hancock, who runs River East Accounting, asking him to help her put together an application for a 501(c)(3)—and he absolutely came through. Over the course of the next three weeks, she and a few newly acclaimed board members threw together a wildly successful gala in order to raise money for clean water. It was the real deal, including tickets, an auction, and a band—and to this day she still says she has no idea how they did it.
While nothing goes to plan, the gala was a success but the partnership with the orphanage was not. Turns out, in Nicaragua, if you improve one’s property you are assuming partial ownership of that property, and the director of the orphanage wasn’t interested in moving forward as planned. “My takeaway from this mishap was quite simple – learn about the culture you are trying to help before offering your services. You may be trying to do good, but to them you are an insult. There’s an art to giving and that takes time to develop properly,” says Pippenburg. Of course she went on to open her own Cultural Arts Center in Nicaragua despite her setback – providing fresh water, food, and art classes to the local children in need.
And that’s where the Art of Giving Foundation comes in. Art of Giving Foundation is a licensed 501(c)(3) with the mission to provide funding and resources for local art programs and communities in need of inspiration. Pippenburg had already founded the Art of Giving Foundation in 2019—impeccable timing, as the organization was around one year old when the pandemic hit, and in order to go after government grants, your organization has to have been a 501(c)(3) for at least a year. So, rather than going into communities and teaching art classes (which the organization had previously done but could no longer do because of Covid), the foundation began focusing on raising funds for local artists as well as applying for government grants on behalf of newer organizations that hadn’t reached their 501(c)(3) level yet. That way these organizations could bring art to their own communities.
Today, five individuals serve on the foundation’s board. Jason Farley is the Creative Arts Director, as well as a highly talented and well networked Chicago artist. Steve Infante is the Director of Strategy. Brad Laney is the Marketing & Communications Director. Robinson Elsdale, Pippenburg’s boyfriend, is the Community Outreach Director. And last but certainly not least, Autumn Pippenburg is the founder and CEO who does just about anything and everything that needs to be done. “My main role and objective is to find the ‘need’ and develop a creative way to fulfill it. Whether that’s funding, a community effort, or both. Being the CEO means I do a little bit of everything, but I really shine when I can get my hands dirty,” says Pippenburg.
So, what all does Art of Giving Foundation provide? Pippenburg shares, “It provides funding for local art programs and community organizations, as well as art scholarships and grants for local artists.”
It also provides local artists with work opportunities, partnering with Pippco, Inc., an art and design consulting firm as well as host of the Art on the City blog that features individuals in the arts and trades industries. Truly, empowering others to bring art to their own community and use it to ignite change, is incredibly rewarding in and of itself.
When we asked Pippenburg for a brief description of Pippco, Inc., her response was, “That’s just not possible. There are many elements to the company.” Pippco, Inc. is an art and design consulting firm. They furnish residential homes, corporate businesses, hospitality establishments, and healthcare facilities with all types of art and artifacts—offering access to an extended network of artists, thanks to the wide connections of Pippenburg as well as the other members of Art of Giving Foundation. Pippco, Inc. is a woman-owned company that consists of passionate individuals with more than twenty years of collective experience—all serving from a place of deep-rooted appreciation for the art industry. As a boutique company, they deliver undivided attention and thought to each client—because every detail matters. The company keeps things fun by gravitating toward funky contemporary art, pop art, and whimsical art; and, with access to such a wide array of artists, their connections allow them to deliver whatever the client may be looking for—across multiple mediums including photography, mixed media, murals, and paintings. “We store and broker thousands of pieces of art every year and that’s only the beginning. We host pop-up exhibits, install rotating art shows, and so much more. The beautiful thing about owning your own business is you can get as creative as you want,” articulates Pippenburg.
“Our clients’ needs range from the art and design phase to installation—but, all brokered art commissions go to the greater good—Art of Giving Foundation,” states Pippenburg. Commissions are tax write-offs for the artists, plus, clients know they’re giving back to the local art community and simultaneously supplying work opportunities for local artists.
Art is inspiring, art is necessary, and art ignites change. Pippenburg, having been raised in the world of art herself, has a deep passion for the arts and trades. It shows through the impressive ways she’s chosen to utilize her time and her talents to give back to the community. A mind that is not only wildly artistic, but also brilliantly entrepreneurial, is a rare thing to come by, but Pippenburg has it and she’s chosen to use it for the greater good.