Artist Geri Dunn was stunned when someone purchased a gift certificate of hers at a silent auction and then wanted to either 1) redeem it for cash or 2) commission an original drawing for the amount on the certificate ($150). People really do ask/demand the darndest things!
Let's look at the situation and start with the gift certificate itself, pictured here.
The small lettering on the bottom row consists of these three components.
- The artist's contact information–phone and email.
- The certificate number, expiration date (12/31/2010), and the words “Not redeemable for cash.” Having an expiration date is important! And the “not redeemable” phrase proved key when the recipient tried to cash it in. Geri was able to point to this language and quickly put an end to that discussion. The words “No Cash Value” could also be used or added.
- A place for the authorized signature (presumably the artist's or the organization that auctioned it off).
Without knowing the context of how this was promoted in the sale (Was there any text that went along with it or in a catalog?), I see one crucial piece of information missing on the gift certificate–>What can it be used for?
A simple phrase like “To be used toward the purchase of original art or prints by Geri Dunn” might have covered it.*
You could also add the phrase “Non-Transferable” if you want to ensure that only the purchaser is able to use the certificate.
Go over details with the organizers
It's difficult to have control over your donations if you aren't involved with the organization or in attendance, but there are some things you can do to have a smoother experience.
Whenever you donate a gift certificate, talk details with the organization. The nonprofits I've been involved with have had forms for donors to fill out. Write out the specific terms of your donation on the form and make sure you sign it somewhere. If the organization you're supporting doesn't have a form, make up an official letter of your own. Address your donation letter to the organization and include it when you deliver the gift certificate.
If you really want to go all out, see that anything in print (a catalog, brochure, or label) is more specific than “Gift Certificate.” Perhaps “Gift certificate toward the purchase of art by Geri Dunn” would be sufficient. I know this might sound like going overboard, but I'm amazed at how few people read the details of an offer. The more bases you cover, the fewer headaches you'll have in the long run.
You can also use and adapt many of the above tips for certificates that are purchased from you and given as gifts.
*Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney. I'm sure that state laws differ on such matters, so please do some research before you create your gift certificates.