It’s common for artists to be asked by various charities and not-for-charities (companies) to “DONATE” artwork or painting services for their cause.
Here are some benefits of giving art to charities:
1.) You feel good about giving to a charity that you love & you get to help them further the cause
2.) You may get media coverage (usually not)
3.) You may gain new art collectors (this rarely happens, but it can)
Don’t do it for the write off – ACCORDING TO THE I.R.S. YOU CANNOT WRITE OFF YOUR TIME. ONLY YOUR MATERIALS. Many people do not know that you can only write off the cost that you actually paid for your materials – which you already are writing off if you are a professional artist.
A question I get from many artists is: How much or how often should I give to charities? My answer is to set up a criteria for yourself and follow it. Further in this post I share our Principals on giving to charities. But first, a little explanation:
We get about 20 requests A WEEK form various charities, schools and companies asking for us to donate art. There is a limitless supply of charities! I recommend that you choose 2 or 3 of your favorite charities, and focus entirely on them so that you can actually make a difference in a cause that you care about.
We’ve developed our own principals on how to give to worthy causes and at the same time not give away the store. It’s nice to be generous, but be careful not to lower the value of your art. It’s a delicate balance. And there’s one really important thing to realize:
When you have collectors who buy your art, it’s important to protect the value of it FOR THEIR SAKE. If you won’t do it for yourself, at least do it for the people who have supported your art career by purchasing art from you.
BROPHY PRINCIPALS FOR GIVING ART TO WORTHY CAUSES:
In order for us to give artwork to a cause, the cause or group must meet at least FOUR of the following SIX criteria:
1.) IT IS A BONIFIDE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION: We get a lot of companies asking for free stuff, and if they aren’t non-profit, they don’t fall into the category of a worthy cause.
2.) WE MUST FEEL PASSION FOR THE CAUSE: Drew and I have 3 causes that we are dedicated to. These charities we always say yes to, because we love them and what they are doing for our planet. Most other causes are nice, but not our passion.
3.) THE ARTWORK WILL BE AUCTIONED OR SOLD PROPERLY: (This principal is mandatory) If it’s being auctioned, it must begin with a proper starting price so that it is sold at or above the $ price that we would sell it for out of our studio, so as not to lower the value of other works we’ve sold. (Here’s an example of what went wrong once: We donated a full-surfboard painting to a Ball a few years ago. We sell these boards $2,500.00. It auctioned for $850.00. This was devastating to us! This is an example of how you can lower the value of existing art if you aren’t careful. We learned a big lesson and we are now intimately involved in the pricing and make damn sure they understand the importance of getting the proper $ dollar amount.)
4.) WE WILL GET PAID A PERCENTAGE OF THE EARNINGS: Some charities will provide the artist with anywhere from 20% to 60% of the auctioned or sold price of the artwork. I love working with these charities and almost always say yes to them. It’s fair, and I think that all charities should do this for the donating artists. (We have a piece in the “PRE-EXISTING CONDITION” EXHIBITION – all artists get a % of the sales.)
5.) THERE IS GUARANTEED MEDIA EXPOSURE: And I mean GUARANTEED not just a maybe. Many people will promise media exposure for the artist, but usually it doesn’t happen. We’ve been promised the moon and got nothing a few times. Now I ask for it in writing, if the media exposure is the main reason we are doing it.
6.) WE HAVEN’T EXCEEDED OUR YEARLY QUOTA OF $20,000: We have $20,000 as a total benchmark to give away each year. Usually we reach this early in the year. Sometimes we make an exception to the rule, when something really important comes up or a great opportunity or if Surfrider calls. Set your own quota that you can afford and stick with it.
I recommend that you come up with your own personal principals for giving to charities, and use that as a guideline. Just be careful that your artwork is appreciated and respected and that it auctions for a fair market value. You owe that to your collectors.
Share in the comments your own experiences or thoughts on donating artwork. I’d like to hear some feedback on this!
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