Watch the Video:

Listen to the Audios:


Aletta de Wal
Artist Advisor & Art Marketing Strategist







Fabienne Bismuth
3-D Artist






Huguette May
2-D Artist





Read Their Stories:

Aletta de Wal
Fabienne Bismuth
Huguette May

You will need Adobe Reader to view these files. Get it here, it's free.








« Artist Donations: Rescue Animals | Main | Artist Donations: How to Respond to Requests for Art Donations »

Artist Donations: Making the Most of Giving Art to Fundraisers


Like many artists you probably donate to charitable organizations and causes you believe in. Artists tend to be generous that way. And charities love to have art to use at fundraisers.

Win-win? Maybe. Maybe not.

If you just donate your art, and don’t get further involved, you leave a lot to chance. Yes, that means adding time to what you already gave to the art.

But if you drop off the work and go back to your studio, you won’t know:

  • if the art will be presented to show well,

  • if the auction price matches the market value

  • or if the auctioneer will tell bidders anything about you.

And you’ll miss out on chances to make new connections.

Like many artists, you might feel underappreciated as well.

Don’t settle for any of these possibilities.

Get involved in the fundraiser event and you’ll improve the chance that your piece will show well, be more likely to sell and that the audience will appreciate you as the person who created and donated the art.

  • Help present the piece with proper framing, good lighting and a story to go with it;

  • Engage in conversations with the organization, the event workers, presenters and guests and you’ll expand the possibilities that good things will happen for all;

  • Set a minimum bid, and negotiate a payment for your materials and your piece will contribute to the cause as well as your business.

Abstract artist, workshop teacher and host of “Art Revealed,” Gayle Rappaport-Weiland shares a story of how she makes the most of giving. - -“Ann Ranlett and I created Appeals for Art to share ideas with artists and charitable organizations for donating prudently and successfully.

I love to be able to turn my art into money for charitable organizations. Many times it is a 100 percent give, other times I work out a percentage with the organization.

When I donated a valuable painting to a major charitable organization, I was thrilled at the response. My painting earned the top dollar.

I did more than simply donate a piece of art. Be prepared, take action, leave nothing to chance and help make the sale happen.

  • My contribution was very large so I offered to deliver and set up the painting on my own easel. Next, I asked the organizer if we could improve the way my piece was lit. If the piece is not well presented, it won’t sell. The stage manager used stage lighting, which created a “wow” factor.
  • I checked with the auctioneer about the live auction to see if he had what he needed to introduce me as the donating artist. He was happy to have me write my brief biography and my current achievements on his 3 by 5 card. It made him shine with all his knowledge and helped the bids soar.
  • When the bidding was going well, the auctioneer pointed me out in the audience and gave me a shout out. I was glad I dressed for success and presented myself as a professional artist and business owner.

A ticket to the event as a perk for donating was a marvelous networking opportunity.

  • I love finding out why others support the organization and the cause I also care about, so I make sure to talk to as many people as I can during the preview and auction.
  • During the preview, I stood close by to introduce myself and explain my creative process. Everyone was delighted.
  • During the auction, I sat next to a major contributor and prominent businessperson, so I took the opportunity to introduce myself and hand her a business card.
  • After the event, I follow up with the organizers and the new contacts I made. A simple email is always a nice touch.

Fundraiser events are not only fun, but also good for business!”

By all means - contribute to causes you believe in, have fun and help yourself while you help others get what they need. Thanks for being who you are!

Do you have a story about the last time you made a donation? What advice do you have for other artists or organizations?


Comment here or on Facebook and Twitter

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (1)

I have had charitable contributions go both ways and I love the advice you gave about lighting, showing up for the event, and being more involved than just giving the painting. I'd like to think I just gave out of the goodness of my heart, but so often the organization stresses how your donation will be advertised and be good for all. But I have been in silent auctions where your work was in the dark, sells for less than the cost of the frame, you have no idea who bought it, and don't even get a thank-you from the group! That makes you feel like saying "no" to all that ask.

I do still give but, I only give to organizations that I really believe in. I don't think organizations understand that as artists we do not even get a good deduction on our income taxes. I have an artist friend that donated to almost anyone that asked. One time a man came to his gallery and told him he had several of his paintings and that he had bought them all from charity auctions for far less than they sold for in the gallery. He had a collection, but never bought from the artist. He waits until there is another auction and buys there. Those donations are actually hurting that artist.

I have been the executive director of a nonprofit and know how they ask artists for donations of art. Sometimes I feel like they depend on the artists to give. It's hard to get retail to donate their products and it is not hard for them to say no, and it is hard for an artist to say no. I think it is up to the artist to educate the nonprofits in their area. They need to understand that it might help if they would reimburse their cost of frame and materials, give the art good lighting, not let it sell for way less than the value--just put a minimum and not sell it at all if it doesn't meet it.

One thing that I have learned is that you can always give a gift certificate. I usually give a $100 gift certificate off a Pet Portrait. That way, I don't have to worry about lighting. I find out who bought the gift certificate when they redeem it so I'm able to build that relationship with a possible collector. I still make pretty good money on the painting. I have had those certificates go for their value at auction. The buyer feels good for making a donation and I feel great about that. Sometimes I will give more than one gift certificate.

This year I had a wonderful experience with a non-profit foundation that produces an outdoor musical drama, "TEXAS" in Palo Duro Canyon, near Amarillo, TX. I had almost 50 paintings published throughout their program and on the cover! It is like a portfolio of my work and over 1000 people from all over the country attend that musical and many buy the program. It has been such a boost to my career. The painting that was on the cover was auctioned at their big fundraiser and sold for several thousand dollars. I had publicity in local magazines, the newspaper and TV. It was well worth my time and donation. They had a show for me in my gallery---I gave them a percentage of sales. I got some new customers and they made some pretty good income. I went out to the show and painted on site several nights during the season. I even sold paintings that I worked on right there.

Our local theatre asks an artist each season, which runs from Sept-May to donate a painting. That painting is available in their lobby as a silent auction item for the entire season. They put a page of information about the artist in their programs. People that attend the theatre enjoy art and many are buyers, so it is good advertising, and the paintings sell for at or more than in gallery prices.

I believe that an artist should give--most of us are giving people--we feel we have a God given talent that we should share. But I also think you should pick and choose and not give every time you are asked. The artist should make an effort to attend the function if possible, network, build some relationships. Not only should it be worth your time because it goes to something you believe it, but it shouldn't hurt your career--it should help. And you should be able have the joy of giving.

December 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Clements

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>