HAND/EYE Fund Artisan Grants

HAND/EYE Trust Artisan Grants (HEFAG)
HEFAG provides direct financial assistance to artisan groups with their eyes on a successful future doing what they are good at: working with their craft traditions to earn a living. There is virtually no overhead at HEFAG, so all but a small administrative capture of ten percent (10%) goes directly to artisan groups whose applications are reviewed and approved by the HEFAG volunteer committee. Groups who have received funds in their early years have gone on to local and international success by investing in tools and equipment, workshop expansion, new materials and market experiences. The small grants approach is focused, personal, and practical.  
HAND/EYE Fund has applied to the IRS for 501 c 3 charitable status, and donations supporting its work are tax deductible to the extent allowed by the laws of the United States. Donations earmarked for the Artisan Grants program are tracked so that they are used only for that purpose.
Our goal is to support artisans in growing their businesses, making and selling their product, and expressing their cultural and personal traditions by applying their skills to craft. The specific approach of  HAND/EYE Fund Artisan Grants is to do this by providing targeted cash assistance for investments the artisan defines and implements. These might include tools and equipment, materials, product development assistance or participation in a new market event. We believe this direct assistance can be an important and effective catalyst for artisan enterprise success. 

HAND/EYE Fund Artisan Grants was officially formed in 2010, spurred by the needs of Haitian artisans in the aftermath of the January 12th earthquake.

The program grew out of a more than twenty year history of small grant making at Aid to Artisans, where the tradition of an all-volunteer group raising small amounts of money to be delivered with minimal red tape to artisans with ambitious plans was born after careful volunteer review every six months of all applications received.

During its ATA history the grants program awarded over 500 grants worth a total of approximately $725,000 in 75 countries.  

The program had effects beyond the volunteer-driven effort. Aid to Artisans invited corporations to mirror the small grants program, and a single sponsor donated $200,000 to fund small grants programs in India and Mexico. A private sponsor donated $100,000 to create The ATA Before and After Fund which helped ATA address the needs of past program participants, often in the form of small grants.

Eager to continue the small-scale, personal, and effective tradition begun at ATA, HAND/EYE Fund Artisan Grants will follow the same all-volunteer pattern of fundraising, thorough review, and efficient transfer of small cash grants.


HEFAG assistance will build upon the success of the previous Small Grants program, maintaining a similar approach. Targeted cash grants will remain in the US$500-1,500 range, with a few groups receiving a second round of support. To complement these grants, volunteers may provide time and expertise such as advice and on-site support for the 2011 Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. 

The decision to support an artisan group usually hinges on the presence of a structured, formal group that has been working together for some period of time, and which makes product the reviewing committee believes to hold market potential in a local or international context. Other criteria such as geographic preference, degree of economic need (of the group or country) and ability for the grant to provide a substantial step forward in the group’s success will be considered, as well.

While HEFAG has historically focused its grantmaking in developing countries, consideration will be given to proposals from the US and other developed countries. HETAG's emphasis is on supporting artisan groups in challenging economic circumstances will remain consistent, no matter the geography.

In addition, HEFAG plans to consider responding to and/or pursuing special projects and initiatives that require longer-term support of one or more artisan groups and their communities. These longer term involvements will combine direct cash assistance with outside mentorship on topics requested by the partnering artisan group.


Experienced and active volunteers carry out the bulk of HEFAG program and administrative activities. We are professionals whose experience and passion intersect at the crossroads of craft, culture, trade and development. We bring decades of collective experience in working with artisans around the world to develop, market and sell their products in local and global markets, strengthen their businesses and improve their lives. Our group includes leading industry product development and design consultants, business owners and entrepreneurs, management and administration professionals.  

Although the HEFAG concept is proven, our program structure is emerging as we reshape and retool in this new form. Our HEFAG Core serves to lead and define the initiatives we work on, and to reach out across our various networks to others interested in contributing.

Docey Lewis
Keith Recker
Colvin English
Robin Saidman
Jonathan Williams
Lane Pollack
Joanne Heard

In addition to this core team, the HETAG concept has sparked interest from a number of friends across our professional and personal networks. HEFAG Actionistas bring passion, time, skills, networks and other resources to our work on a volunteer basis. Working with our core team, these folks are active in specific projects, while playing an ongoing advisory role for the program as a whole.

HEFAG Actionistas 

Kirsten Bunch
Mary Cockram
Jessica Cook
Karen Gibbs
Mac McCoy
Alden Smith
Clare Brett Smith
Phil Smith

As we identify and pursue specific opportunities to support artisans worldwide, we collaborate with other groups active in the craft-culture-market-development spheres. These HEFAG Partners include:
HEFAG Partners

Santa Fe International Folk Art Market
Charity USA 
Vital Edge Aid

In launching HEFAG, our group expressed a passionate commitment to maximizing the support that reaches each artisan or group we support, by keeping administrative costs low. To do this, our group: 

- Completes most program activities on an all-volunteer basis, including designing and administering projects, identifying artisan groups, seeking donor support and selecting grant recipients, plus additional technical support (e.g. product development and sales support for the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market)

- Seeks in-kind support for marketing, technical and other program-based needs
- Charges a minimal 10% administrative fee for receiving, processing and issuing funds

In this way, we can deliver maximum support at minimal cost.
Emergency grants for Haiti will be approved and awarded as funds become available throughout 2010 and 2011.
Standard grants for other countries will be reviewed twice yearly in January and August.