I recently wrote the email below in answer to yet another request for an art donation. This year I actually have sold more pieces than in past years but mostly at rock bottom prices just to send them to happy homes.  Every year I am inundated with “please donate” requests to our fundraiser. I’m not even making a dent in my own finances with the pieces of artwork or cards that I’ve sold this year.  It is very discouraging to be finally at such a creative level but not  gaining a steady financial gain.  Then with many art classes not running due to low enrollment – my fridge gets very empty.

How do you feel about donating your artwork? Just curious… would be  interesting to hear from people who have purchased art at a fundraiser.

Often fundraiser requests try to glamorize by saying your art will hang in our _________________, you’ll receive free publicity, many people will view your work, your donation is tax-deductible… can’t remember the other typical phrases. Sometimes they offer you a ticket to the fundraiser event which can be fun.

Here is the body of the email:

Please don’t think I’m rude but I need to speak the truth about donating art…

first, the number of requests per year to donate for great causes is staggering for most artists. I’ve already received 11 requests this year.

second… tax deductible – for the artist that means cost of materials only : frame, mat, glass or canvas, etc. Artists are not allowed to count the retail value of a piece – only a person who has purchased a piece & then decides to donate can deduct the original purchase price/value of the piece.

third: most times the piece goes for far less than what the artist and/or gallery would sell a piece for which may devalue future sales. Many people learn to wait for donation auction type art events to purchase artwork at very low prices.

Ideally a donation auction piece of art bid would start at an agreed upon start bid and give a small % back to the artist for cost of materials.

The other option for the fundraiser is to have artists prepare a piece that is a specific size. Some events even provide the canvass for the artist and set a start price & accept higher bids within a set time limit. These events I like to do because its my tie and creativity, not my materials.

So with that said, I do have a two piece collage on canvass that I will donate to the fundraiser. I wish you much success with the event. It truly is a lovely building…