6 Limits for Donating Artwork

There is no end to requests for donations of your artwork, so you need to figure out how to handle them.

I suggest setting limits – now!

Kristina Bell DiTullo, Affect/Effect I (detail). Sheer and clear adhesive bandages on clear plastic shower curtain.

Kristina Bell DiTullo, Affect/Effect I (detail). Sheer and clear adhesive bandages on clear plastic shower curtain. Installation for “6.7.8”, May 2010, Mobius, Boston, MA. ©The Artist

This advice isn’t for artists who are joyfully supporting multiple causes with gifts of their art. It’s for artists who are searching for a response to relentless donation requests – often for charitable auctions.

  1. Set limits on the causes you donate to.
  2. Set limits on the monetary value you donate.
  3. Set limits on the type of art or medium you donate.
  4. Set limits for organizations that don’t give you a complimentary invitation.
  5. Set limits on how art is publicized and displayed.
  6. Set limits on bidding.

What are your donating limits?

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69 comments to 6 Limits for Donating Artwork

  • I do up 8 x 8 artworks specifically for donations, as I always found that larger pieces of any artist’s work never got full value at fundraising events. Fortunately I have received feedback and sales from these fundraisers!

  • Thanks Alyson! This post hits all kinds of chords with me. I want to give, and do continue to give, but am usually discouraged with end results.

    -I’ve experienced a a dollar amount ceiling, regardless of size of work. Has made me hesitant on donating larger pieces. Too hard on the ego and fear it’s bad for business for a $850 piece to be silent auctioned for $225. So, I’ve begun to donate work that retails in $200-$250 range.

    -I’ve set minimum bids, that were ignored :(

    -You confirmed what my accountant has said for years, “you cannot count art donations as deductions” – although fundraising groups continue to say I can.

    -Some fundraising admission fees are $100+. I think they would be wise to offer artists 2 complimentary tickets. Or at least, a discounted 2nd comp ticket. I’ve observed artists’ accompanying friends and spouses are usually strong bidding attendees.

    – And then there are the groups that don’t give the artist even one complimentary ticket :(

    -After fundraising events I am unable to attend – I would love for fundraiser group to notify me with the name and contact info on who purchased my art and how much it went for – I may receive a form letter “thank you.” Or, usually, I don’t hear from them until the same time the next year when they want a donation.

    After all that – my best donating experience was to a rural, hometown library that sold $1 raffle tickets and raised $2,000+ for a $225 watercolor. Library books, videos have been an integral part of my artistic journey and this group hustled. :)

    Maybe more than you wanted to hear…Thanks again. June

    • June: Great feedback. I forgot a very important limit: Being given the name and contact info of the purchaser. Glad you pointed that out.

      It’s up to us to educate the organizations on the tax laws. They are obviously oblivious.

  • Each artist needs to decide what is right for them, but I no longer donate original artwork. I was contacted a few weeks ago about donating original art to an auction event for an animal shelter. I informed them that I did not donate original art, but that I had a series of cat posters that I would be happy to contribute. It doesn’t bring in as much money, but it doesn’t devalue my work either or undercut my galleries and I’ve never gotten sales or even interest from participating in art auctions.

    I saw on one artist’s webpage a great way to handle donations. She stated that she no longer gave art to charities (been there done that basically), but that she would sell the art to the charity at wholesale price. This is actually a great idea since she gets the same price she would get if she sold it through a gallery AND they have to make the reserve at almost retail price to make any money, which doesn’t devalue the work. I doubt many charities take her up on it though.

  • I sometimes donate lessons and a print. It is good advertising and I haven’t talked to my accountant but I think it is a better deduction.

  • I quilt . . . it takes me 6-8 weeks to make a bed-size quilt, not including the cost of materials.

    I’ve had quilts go for a fraction of what they’re valued at; and, I’ve never attracted any attention after events.

    My current strategy for donations is to sell the work to the organization or person requesting the donation. That way, it becomes their donation, not mine (especially in the case of out-of-state requests).

  • The advice to “be prepared in advance of being asked” is important. After years of solicitations and disappointing results similar to those already mentioned, I went so far as to ask my gallery representative to dispense rules for donating art to all her gallery artists. This was important because on several occasions, benefactors of low auction bids thought to mention their windfall in her gallery in front on other visitors and potential buyers! This of course made the galley owner uneasy at the thought of work similar to what she was showing in the gallery could be gotten for much less in a different venue. A document stating clear rules for donation requests would not only prevent the gallery owner’s nerve from being frayed, but would provide the backup needed by the artist in case of aggressive solicitors. Together with the galley artists, she devised a system that allowed for gift certificates, free workshops for the auction winner and a select number of friends, and any donation to a favorite charity deemed worthy by the artist, but limited to one a year, all at the artist’s discretion of course (no artist is forced to match these rules, but cannot go beyond the stated limit). As this requirement was put in writing by the gallery, it gave artists the clear guidelines to adhere to in the course of conversation with the solicitor. I have found this system beneficial on numerous occasions and would suggest it to other artists. Having a signed document in your files when that phone rings is a lifesaver.

    • Great idea. The artist is behaving professionally, their gallery rep is spared any unease, and everyone looks professional to potential buyers. Seems like those of us without galleries could get something like this going through one of our artists’ associations. I’ve just stopped donating, but something like this might get me back in the game.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Meg. I think it’s super important to know how donating affects your relationship with galleries. Nice that the gallery is working with the artists to figure it all out.

  • I have a fundraiser at Independence Gallery in Loveland Colorado for Cystic Fibrosis. When the artists pieces sell, I pay them for the sale and they in turn write a check back to the CF foundation. They then get the monitary donation. Of couse they do have to declare the sale. I’ve asked some of the fundraisers to considering doing this. Below is a column I wrote regarding this subject.

    The generosity of artists

    As a working artist and gallery owner I’m often asked for art donations. I donate about 15 to 20 pieces of artwork per year. Some of the donations are small. Recently I donated a painted Emu egg to an Eggstrodinary Evening for Alzheimer’s. I have a second project of a paint palette that is to be painting or decorated that will also be for Memories in the Making, another Alzheimer’s fundraiser.

    I myself have asked artists to donate. During February over 35 artists came to my call for paintings of roses for Cystic Fibrosis. The fundraiser 65 Roses for Cystic Fibrosis was in its second year and rose close to $4000 towards research for a cure.

    If a collector donates a piece of art from his collection he or she can donate the value of the piece. What the buying public may not know is that the artist can only write off the cost of materials. There is not any consideration for their time or talent. So when they are asked to give, it is truly a gift.

    As artists we sometimes have to turn down a request. For me, I prefer not to donate to political fundraising. I prefer to give to causes that are near and dear to my heart. For instance, I have a granddaughter with Cystic Fibrosis so that is something that I have selfish reasons to donate. I’m inspired with all the donations from artists who give for the simple act of caring.

    Sometimes we turn the requests down for the simple reason we have to have a limit to how much of what we do we are willing to give away.

    Many times I’ll go to the fundraiser to see the amount of money that is being raised an am appalled to see how little was paid for the art piece. At some point I would have rather given the money rather than all the time spent and the cost of framing.

    So if you are at a charitable event that offers original art , keep in mind the goal is to raise funds for the charity, not just to get a bargain on a piece of art.

    .

    • Billie: Thank you for sharing this. Have you researched to find out the legalities of what you propose? For instance, is there any special language that you must use to make it legal?

  • I am not a fan of artists donating work because I believe it de-values us as professionals and our work. It also contributes to society’s belief that we were given some “gift” so therefore we should in turn give our art a way (we contribute to them thinking there is not work involved nor cost). I much prefer donating my time/expertise/etc. when I know it will be appreciated.

    In Colorado Springs I do donate my time and create a large metal butterfly for a major auction. This is a community wide event and we raised over $40K this year. Each artist was given $150 for materials, we attended the event for free, and we received 10% for the amount the butterfly was auctioned off for. The latter is a motivator as well. This donation feels like a win-win to me.

    • I love the idea of this, Carol. It’s a great idea on all counts.

      • I don’t think the artwork is devalued in these situations. Other non-art items also get very low bids. Its the nature of the beast. If you donate something, you need to accept that fact. However, I’ve had some auctions actually give me a percentage of the final bid. Rare, but nicer incentive to donate. I think it helps to let the solicitor know that artists do NOT get a tax deduction for the value of the piece, only the cost of goods. Never feel guilty when you decline.

  • I was recently asked to donate to a charitable auction. “The board members include Mr and Mrs Millionaire” . I was told how many items were donated last year and how much money they raised. I did the math. Turned out to be about $12.50 per item!!!!!!
    I made the suggestion the they get ‘Mr and Mrs Millionaire’ to buy one of my paintings and then donate it to the auction. That way everyone wins. I get a fair price for my work, the donors get a tax deduction and the auction gets to donate my painting.
    I never heard back from the charity.

  • Thanks for blogging on this topic, Alyson and friends. This is my number two “issue” as it were when it comes to my practice. The thing that strikes me is that we, as artists, must begin to teach those around us that we don’t work for free. While there are many compassionate and philanthropic reasons why one may wish to contribute to a cause, my advice is that you actually develop your company policy around donations. Write it out…have it ready to hand out to those who ask for it.

    Once you’ve completed your donation policy, it makes it so much easier and you don’t need to agonize each time someone asks. For me, I assess requests and only donate to charities (not non-profits or any other individual causes) i) that benefit children’s education in arts and arts-related activities ii) a specific designated Canadian Aboriginal artist scholarship that allows women professional artists or arts administrators attend leadership and management development programs at The Banff Centre.

    Once your policy is clear, it is easy for you to build these commitments into your own business plan and also to teach others that as an artist, you are also aware and socially responsible but seeking to get paid for the work that you complete. As K Henderson says in the post above, there are many philanthropists that can afford to purchase work and donate it. It would be good to TEACH general society this premise.

    Establishing my own policy and telling folks WHY it is, and how many times you get hit up for “free donations” for your work is as important to artists in general as your materials with which you create.

    Do I need more “exposure”? Heck no. Folks die from exposure. ;)

    I wrote my own blogpost on this awhile back, “Artist’s Dirty Little Secret” if this helps anyone:

    http://www.janicetantonblog.com/art-tips-learning-opportunities/artists-dirty-little-secret

  • Here here to Alyson’s donating points!

    If I am interested in a charity’s request I now use a “Charitable Donation Guidelines” which I put together a few months ago. It briefly informs the charity of limited IRS tax deduction for donated artwork and why considering my format increases the quality of artwork. Then I spell out areas of: minimum bid (set by me with explanation of why this honors my existing collectors/galleries); 50/50 to artist/charitable organization; timeline of payment; buyer information required; if artwork doesn’t sell and damage occurs to frame or art there is a % damage fee. If agreeable the appropriate person of the organization signs/dates this document and returns to me.

    I recently used this “Donation Guidelines” document with a charitable organization that signed off on it. The event is this Friday night. We’ll see how it goes!

    If anyone is interested in seeing my guidelines I’ll send you the Word.doc as an attachment. (Or I can send as a PDF.)

    • I would love to have your Word.doc. donation guidlines sent to my email address. Thank you in advance
      Jan Cyr

    • Sue Henderson

      I would also like a copy. As an art fundraiser (local arts commission and various organizations) I’ve run into this often. I’d love to share the discussion with the artists I work with so we can develop a cohesive answer. THANKS!

    • Hi Nancy,
      I would love to have the word doc of “Donation Guidelines” Something has to be done about these donations.
      Thank you for sharing.

      • Hi Vic,
        I couldn’t find your email address on your web site and tried to send you a note on your contact page but after submitting my message a page came up that indicated
        ‘404 error’. Please send me your email address to nancy@nancyteaguestudio.com and I will send you my Donation Guidelines. Let me know if you want Word.doc or PDF.
        Nancy

    • Nancy: If you send it to me in either format, I can share it here.

      Or, better, you could upload to your website and share the link here. Then you get the traffic!

  • Oh, how I wished I had read this several years ago. A local hospital puts on a fund raiser every year. Every year I have donated several large paintings. I get a percent of what they sell for. They have made several thousand off of my work. I get mentioned in the brochure, I think. I’m not sure, because they’ve never given me one. I’m sent an invitation to the gala, which cost more than I can afford.
    I have made one sale to a collector that goes to the gala every year. $18. (not joking)
    The same hospital offers no help for people that have no insurance. Which is me. I have cancer.
    To say I feel like a fool, is putting it mildly. But I did all of the above because the head of the gala, and her friend have collected my art for years. I had just moved my gallery to a new location, so I was hoping the publicity would help. What it did was allow people that could well afford my art to purchase it much cheaper, and look good while doing it. They have a very nice painting hanging in their home, and get to deduct it at the end of the year.
    This year, I won’t be donating anything. Thank you for opening my eyes.

    • PJ: I know this stings. But you were doing a friend a favor and you feel good about that.

      Still, it just smells bad. It’s so unfair!

      I’m sorry for what you’re going through and what you’ve been through.

      Sending you good thoughts.

  • Beth Rulli

    I was told years ago by a famous glass artist that we should only donate to those organizations that we would be willing to give cash to. I have inexpensive coasters that I donate to the animal shelter’s fundraisers, cash for the Salvation Army, and usually ignore the Wyoming product requests. And no, I have never had any follow-up sales from anyone. Thank you all for your experience sharing.

  • In all the years of giving and giving and giving I have had ONE PERSON contact me to say “I won, thanks, and may I buy more?” Then there was that one bad year when I donated more than I sold, and it woke me right up!

    Now I say “I don’t give my art away but you are welcome to buy it at a discount. That way you get to write off your expenses and I get something for the work”.

    People truly don’t know any better than to automatically go to the artists for freebies. They truly don’t know that we can only write off the materials. They truly are not aware that exposure is a myth, and that we can die of it!

    Our area is so permanently depressed (unemployment is normally 9-13%) that I think it would make more sense for charities to back off the artists and ask gas stations, grocery stores, dentists and lawyers to donate instead!

    I love the idea of a written policy – thank you, Nancy Teague (I’ll email you) and Janice Tanton (will read your blog next). And thank you, Alyson, for facing this giant!

  • Thank you for this specific list of things to consider when making a donation!

  • I have had so many of the same art donation experiences that echo previous emailers including no follow-up interest, no name recognition, ridiculously low start price for silent auction, etc.. I am part of an artist co-op gallery in St Louis and this year I have decided to try the gift certificate route; offering a specific dollar amount to be applied to purchase of any of my work while insuring the recipient can walk out with at least a reproduction equal to the amount and not have to spend extra if they choose. This at least ensures some kind of followup for myself as well as the gallery, and the capture of a name for my mailing list. It’s an idea and I’ll see what happens.

    • Janice: I’d love to hear what happens with this avenue. Please keep me posted.

    • This will work Janice and it will protect your market value as well. I represent over 100 artists and we have been in business for decades. We have learned the hard way how something so good as a charitable heart can destroy years of hard work in creating “value” for your work. Some days we get more requests for donations than we have clients coming in to the gallery. I always felt that it was my duty to donate to charities. I finally learned that although my heart was in the right place, my brain should have analyzed the situation better… I would have realized that I was hurting my artists and my business with these donations. I now never donate art. I donate a gift certificate to the gallery for a certain amount. This will bring in clients to see the gallery and experience the art as a collection. I have also made it a part of my contract with the artists that they will not donate their art outright. If an artist wants to donate to a specific organization, we issue a gift certificate for the dollar amount they want to donate. The winner then brings in the certificate and chooses from the gallery, the art they want from the artist’s collection. That amount is discounted from the art purchase price and the artist and the gallery share the discount, If there is any profit, we share that too…a win win for sure and we maintain price consistency and control over the art.
      As a last note, be advised that our past generosity with donations has resulted in an entire culture of art buyers who never go to galleries to buy art. They now come to galleries only to research the artists and get a feel for prices and quality. Then they wait for the charity auctions and get their “steals” there. Remember artists, that your art has value that must be guarded and maintained…it cant be left to the whim of the bidder to determine the value of your output. That is your determination!

      • Sylvia: Thanks, as always, for your insights on this.

        You are spot on with this: “They now come to galleries only to research the artists and get a feel for prices and quality. Then they wait for the charity auctions and get their “steals” there. ”

        We truly need to be mindful of what we do to support and diminish our profession.

  • A year ago, we did a survey that revealed that, on average, craft artists in Saskatchewan give away over $1,000 worth of professional time and product to various community organizations for fundraising. That commitment to community is commendable.

    However, the volume of requests can get depressing.

    The Saskatchewan Craft Coucil gets an average of one request a week from charities asking us to help solicit artists for donations. Our response is to ask if the event is “artist friendly” (as per CARFAC guidelines). If not (and the only ones that have been since I’ve been here have been our own Fine Craft Auction, the NDP, and the Broadway Theatre) we tell them that we can’t help and why. In general it falls on deaf ears.

    Many members report being overwhelmed with requests for work. Worse yet, in many cases, a donated piece is often essentially given away. A $500 piece might sell for $50 in an auction that has no reserve bid. A production piece valued at $50 might go for $2 or $3 worth of tickets at a draw table at a local hockey tournament. Understandably, many craft artists look at their income compared to the incomes of those going home with the discounted work and get, well, resentful. Understandably so.

    Here’s one thought, however. By focussing on the poorness of artists, we ourselves devalue our work. If you are poor, then complaining about this sends a message that what you make doesn’t have a lot of value. If it is not worth anything, it costs nothing to away. When turning down a request for a donation, I’d suggest a different approach as a reason. Highlight your success, and the value of your work. Here’s an example:

    “Thank you for your e-mail [or photocopied letter] requesting a donation of work my work for your fundraising event. My sculptural pieces retail for $1,200. As such, a donation of work represents a significant contribution, by me, to your organization. Before making a decision on whether to donate or not, I’d like to know:

    * What are the ticket prices to this event?
    * What the average donation by people attending has been in the past? and
    * How much the event raised in the past, and what has been the average price for art compared with the normal retail price that the artist would receive if they sold the piece?

    Quite simply, I often donate work to charity, but have no desire to donate a piece of art valued at $1,200 if (a) it will be essentially given away at your event, or (b) if the requested donation by artists dramatically exceeds the donation request you are making from other occupational groups.

    I look forward to your response to these questions. When you send them, please note that I receive an average of 14 requests for artwork per year. If I said “yes” to all of these, my charitable contributions for the year would be in the range of $15,000. Therefore, before I decide on your request, I will also need a more detailed outline of the use to which the money will be put so that I can evaluate your request against the many other donation requests that I receive.”

    • Thanks Mark. I’ll copy and paste to get the word out.

    • CARFAC has been helpful tome in the past when I have been approach to donate. In one case I sent the organization a link from CARFAC’s site that explained how they could be “artist friendly” and the group agreed to terms mentioned in the link. I received 50% of the final bid and I am now in a relationship with the group to market reproductions from the original that was auctioned. While I don’t always feel I need to get something in order to give…these was not a group that typically falls under my “parameters for giving” as posted below.

      Just wanted to post this as a two thumbs up CARFAC comment!

      Just wanted to post this as a yeh CARFAC comment!

    • Mark: Excellent comments. Thank you for sharing.

      I wish we had the equivalent of CARFAC in the US. http://www.carfac.ca/

      • Oh, and I especially appreciate your comments about the artist not highlighting their lack of wealth and success. I’ve written a post or two about this, but must write more.

  • A young group of fundraisers for Sunnybrook hospital wanted to buy a trans-ischemic doppler machine to detect the potential for stroke before it happened…I donated the very best painting I had because a friend with a brain tumour had a seizure on an airplane that week…They sold my painting & a few other things at the lovely event, & an attendee gave them the money they were short to buy the machine…It was nice to have an achievable goal rather than just “let’s raise as much as we can”…Ask the charity what they are raising money for- not just what disease or cause, but where or what exactly is the money going to go to, & how much exactly do they need…Now, when someone has a brain problem, I can send them to that hospital & I tell them what machine to get the test on…That is solid…

  • I’ve getting hit on like mad, I always donate 40% of my sale to McCall Arts as they
    have a show on the lawn with wine and $50 entrance fee, I’ve sold at solid prices
    for 8 years to this select buying public. Every other show I’ve been ripped off or gotten
    $25 donation for a $200 piece. People think art is so easy to make that it is not
    worth much but attracts folks to events. I’m very un easy now about donations that
    have no feed back or promotion for me or my art. Lately I’ve shown some work at
    big audience shows, where I donate a unframed but mounted watercolor and then
    show a lot of big work and high prices so I participate and get some recognition. It’s very difficult sometimes to turn people down but then again I’m not convinced donating does the artist one bit of good, so be careful, but look for “audience quality
    A good audience can be worthwhile.

  • One more thing, I have gone to events where they wanted a donation,instead
    I did a watercolor demonstration and donated the piece. This was fun, attracted
    art students, and ended up making me feel alot better since it was only time
    a few colors and paper, no frame. I got to dialogue with people and I didn’t feel
    like I was being ripped off as much as simply giving someone a piece of art
    and getting a “thanks, see ya” for it.

  • OK, take off your artist’s cap and put on your top hat. Your work will likely sell for a small fraction of its worth and you have just lost a potential full value purchaser of that same work.
    You can’t deuct the donation off your taxes.
    Your work will not sell for anywhere near full value at the charity event.
    When a person asks for a donation, automatically say “No, but I’ll write you a check for one hundred dollars and you give me a receipt. You now have a tax deductable gift and can still sell your work for full value. I also have never seen a person walking away with my $100 donation who is not smiling.
    I get a minumum of 12 requests per year that I consider valid. I pay out $1200.00. My tax deduction is about $360. My real donation nets at $840.00.
    Twelve pieces of my work will sell for a minumum of $6000.00+. Business wise, I am $5,160.00 ahead.
    Your art is the same as paper currency. Treat it that way unless you really believe your art is substandard. (If you don’t believe in the value of your art, who will?) Take a moment and stop thinking about pure art and think about the “business” of art. You don’t have to be a starving artist. Sometimes it’s a choice.

  • I do one major donation a year — I choose the recipient and the form of the donation. I approach the intended recipient and outline my proposed gift and have always been well accepted. Next year’s donation will be 100 original intaglio prints to be given as a gift to donors who make a $25 donation to the cause I have chosen. Its a great fundraiser for the cause and I get loads of very positive PR from the project. This sort of “challenge grant” has raised great press and donations in the past.

    • Linda: I love that you have been proactive and that YOU choose the recipient – you don’t wait for them to come to you.

      I’m thinking this would make a good guest post or interview. Whatchya think?

  • Thanks for this article. It is very true that as an artist, I am constantly approached by non-profit groups to donate in support of their cause. They often preface the request with,” It would be great promotion of your work.” Very infrequently does follow up commission work ever come as a result of a donation I have made, unless that donation was a gift card credit of a certain value to be applied to a future portrait order. So with this in mind I have set up certain parameters for my giving that help me decide if the request is one I want to follow through on. For me as a portrait artist who specializes in commissioned portraits of scenes of childhood and limited edition reproductions of similar themes, I choose to give back to and support groups that serve children’s issues such as The Children’s Wish Foundation” etc. Whenever possible I try to make my support count locally by donating to groups that do great work in my community. So giving becomes less for me about promotion and more about a matter of personal connection to the work done by the group.

    Above you mentioned the income tax implications. I am not a CMA and I encourage everyone to seek advice on this matter for themselves, but I can say the following. I am from Canada and have checked in with our equivalent to the IRS, CCRA (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency). They told me that I could count my donations as advertising rather than a donation and take the full 100% off the regular retail value of my donated item. I just couldn’t claim it both as a donation and advertising.

  • Last year I did a fundraiser for a family in need. I collected donations for 5 weeks and then gave away a painting equal to the amount raised. I really liked this way of donating as my work was not undersold. I did have to give up a painting worth $2800, but I got a lot of exposure through doing it this way and raised a lot of money for a family in need!

  • I thought your guidelines were spot on! it made a complex issue very simple. And all the added feedback from the above comments was icing on the cake,

  • We had this same discussion a few days ago in our ArtHash group on Facebook. The funny thing was most artists on there seemed to think giving art away was just good karma…

    Interesting!

    • Sonia: It is good karma up to a point. And it can be good karma if it’s something you can afford to do.

      It stops being good karma when you start getting bitter about the process.

  • Thank you for this post, the comments, links and other helpful advice on this sensitive and extremely important topic of donating our time, money and goods. Regardless of our professional or personal goals, valuing ourselves and our time and that of others should be of highest priority. Knowing what we want to achieve and how we want to be received determines our daily choices. I feel empowered from this dialogue, and will definitely be doing some soul searching and goal setting. I believe we can find balance that benefits us all without being super radical. Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts.

  • […] Alyson Stanfield (Art Biz Blog) has now added Donating Limits  […]

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  • Just got the great comment from the gallery owner. Brilliant!!! Giving the gift certificate, then taking off how much they PAID for that certificate, then add on what’s left of the total price of my art. Yeah! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • This is something that I don’t struggle with. Early on in my career, I got caught up in providing something for just about everyone that asked. Soft heart. The soft heart watched our food and mortgage payment walking out the door! Over twenty years ago, I established a policy manual to help govern my art business.

    I subscribe to the method of making things as simple as possible, and established that before making any donation, there had to be certain criteria that the organization met. The organization had to have non-profit or charity status, issue tax receipts and benefit children and arts education. The policy also puts yearly maximums on the value of the work that I donate, based on a percentage of the previous year’s sales and relative to Canada Revenue Agency’s charity percentages for income tax.

    In twenty years, I’ve only modified the policy once and changed “children” to “aboriginal children and adults” to mirror my passion for education in aboriginal communities. I never had a problem responding to a request, and in this way, I teach others how to treat my business regarding this issue.

    I feel a great deal of this lands on our shoulders and it is our responsibility to educate others on how we, as artists, need to be treated. Too often we are the first ones on the list to be asked for a donation, free work, and our time. Here’s more about what I had to say about that – Teaching Others How to Treat You.

    http://www.janicetantonblog.com/blog/teach-others-how-to-treat-you

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  • Mary Mulvihill

    Having been through just about everything mentioned here, I decided to become the benefactor and not the door prize. For the local charities I support, I designate a painting to them and when it sells through the normal channels, I sent them a check. The painting sells for the retail amount, the charity receives a donation and I get the deduction. I don’t get any publicity, but I never found that charity auctions resulted in much PR return.