It’s Time To Stop Expecting Artists to Donate Works for Free to Auctions and Fundraisers

OK, been there, done that! I am tired of the request for me to donate art for somebody’s auction fundraiser. From now on, I will sell the work you choose at a great wholesale price and you can donate it for your fundraiser. This is done mainly because you can write off the full price. I could only write off the cost of materials and not my time or talent if I donated it. So if you purchase a work for $300.00, you could claim a $300.00 deduction on your taxes. I could only claim the cost of the canvas, paints, and frame. This is my business, not a hobby where I paint a bit and give it away to family or friends. Very often the free donations are usually pieces of art that artists are willing to get rid of because they have either been laying around too long, or may not be the best quality pieces. (Am I wrong?) One company realized this and started to have works juried in for their free works from artists. This didn’t go so well because they were still getting inferior works sent in and didn’t have enough great works worthwhile to have the fundraiser.

Most of the time these fundraisers use art as a last minute idea and the person in charge doesn’t know much about art. If the organizations were thinking and truly aware of the difference of good art and junk art, they would benefit from building a reputation of having quality art for their auctions by having a budget for purchasing wholesale and offering these chosen pieces for their auction. Members of the organization can purchase pieces from the artist for the auction. Now they have a vested interest to actually have knowledge about the art and the artist and the real value of the work. These auctions are very lively, and bring in good money for their cause. Keeping this pattern for each auction will build a reputation and soon collectors and even galleries would want to be there to bid thus raising the resulting outcome even higher.

The art not sold during the fundraiser often goes back to the person that purchased it wholesale from the artist and they are able to donate the piece themselves for the full value or keep it for their own collection.



Marcella is a visual artist that made a leap of faith in 1995 and took an early retirement from a successful elementary teaching career of 27 years. She and her husband moved from California to the Atlanta area to continue as a full time artist. She has a formal education in the arts, and has been a creative visual artist for over 40 years.

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