More advice on donating art

Some interesting comments were left on the blog about donating art that are worthy of your consideration.

I now donate gift certificates from my studio toward the purchase of paintings or art lessons. The charity gets their bid money for the certificates, and the winner must visit my studio or go to my website to redeem them. They either don't use it, for whatever reason, or they usually spend more than the certificate is worth, so I get new clients and sales. Either way, I can't lose.Linda Blondheim

I once read something that Oprah said and it changed the way I donate. She said that if you donate to everyone you spread yourself too thin and can't really make a big difference. She suggested donating to only a few charities that support a cause you are passionate about.–Rachelle Disbennett Lee, Ph.D.

Rachelle also recommends Giving Advice.

The Professional Guidelines has a number of documents about Fundraising Auctions including one written specifically for the artist. Harriete Estel Berman

I have donated work that is a a few years old, that way I don't get into trouble with the gallery that is representing me and showing my current work.–Diane McGregor

One caveat for artists just starting out is to remember that a donated piece may be someone's first exposure to your work, so it should be of a quality that you would expect someone to buy.–Marianne Konvalinka

I've been juried into the 2nd Juried Art Exhibition for Sponsorship at Pagosa Mountain Hospital. They have an interesting solution for how to deal with getting art donations. Don't know if it's unusual or just something I haven't heard of before. Anyway, the accepted artwork is available for sponsorship, to build the hospital's permanent art collection. The artist gets paid, the donor gets the tax write-off and the hospital gets some nice art! What do you think of this as a strategy?Barbara Kemp Cowlin 

Barbara: I had to think about this for a bit–follow the trail of money. It sounds like a wonderful solution! Of course, I'm not a tax attorney, so I can't address the legality of it, but I don't see why it wouldn't be a good model.

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6 thoughts on “More advice on donating art”

  1. In my first comment on donating artwork, I neglected to add that while artists can only deduct the cost of materials when donating an artwork, when an artist donates a percentage of the sale of an artwork to a cause, that money can be used as a deduction for income tax purposes. Hence, another reason to donate in this manner.

  2. I am currently helping with auction solicitations for my son’s school PTA and I have noticed the photographers have some clauses that might be interesting for artists too. The photographer are giving portrait packages and they ask for: – a display board to be shown at the auction (clearly they’ve read your book Alyson) – silent auction only, no live auction – a minimum bid amount You could also request that you be given the details of the winning bidder for your records. I considered donating (but I do not have enough quality work to give any away right now) and was going to request that I be allowed a ‘mailing list’ sign-up sheet next to the silent auction box. And as someone who is currently on the soliciting side – we are often volunteers who just want to get through our list, so we love quick answers, whether yes or no. I took on this soliciting role after reading ‘I’d rather be in the Studio’ because I figured that if I could call or visit a business and make a request for a cause I like then perhaps it will be easier to do the same for my artwork in future. And you know what? It was TERRIFYING at first, but I’m getting better at it. My first “No” was very releasing because it was not nearly as bad as I had feared!

  3. Barbara, keep in mind this solution is only relevant if the non-profit wants/needs artwork. Most of the time they want the art to auction because they really need the money instead. They know most artists are more willing to give away art than money. I have a few older paintings on paper that I paid good money to have matted and framed. I am donating those since I can take the price of matting and framing as part of the supplies to make the piece. after these are gone, I don’t know how much donating I’ll be doing (until I’m making a living off my art).

  4. Alyson B. Stanfield

    Hap: Good point. Sounds like a win-win. Caroline: To that list, I would add that you should demand to receive the name and contact info for the purchaser.

  5. Over the years I only donate to 3 worthy causes, one is education, the other special Olympics and the third one fluctuates between several charities. I only donate gift certificates towards a commissioned piece, that way they have to visit the studio. I always put a sample, business cards, postcards etc and the piece they will acquire will not include the frame. It always works, they come to the studio to decide the kind of piece they want and they end up buying something, commissioning other pieces etc.

  6. What about art that is given away freely but anonymous? I plan to create small paintings and slip them into books, store shelves, on park benches, under plates, etc. throughout Costa Rica. Most Costa Ricans can’t afford art and it’s my way of spreading around the joy of discovery and abundance.

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