By J.J. Long
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
At some point in time in your art career, charities or organizations may ask you to kindly donate your artwork to help them reach their fundraising goals or other worthy causes. When you’re approached by people like this, this is a great opportunity for you to gain exposure as an artist as well as help out a worldly cause at the same time. It feels good to give and it feels good to be valued as an artist, so I always recommend giving if you’re able, but you also don’t want to give away the farm if you’re barely making ends meet.
In the 13+ years of being a self-employed artist, I’ve probably been asked well over 100 times to donate art in some way, shape, or form whether it being donating original paintings, donating framed prints, doing custom murals, commission paintings, or nowadays even paint parties as raffle items. I’ve donated thousands upon thousands of dollars’ worth of artwork for raffle items as well as over $28,000 to different charities, organizations, and families with our paint party fundraisers. It’s hard to say yes to everyone, and it’s even harder to say no, but below I have a few tips and tricks to help you make your own decisions when asked to make art donations.
1. Donate Within Your Means
When asked to donate artwork to a charity or organization, first you need to ask yourself if you’re honestly in the position to donate. Don’t feel obligated to donate, you don’t want to donate from a place of guilt, you want to donate from a place of love. If you’re financially struggling and barely making ends meet, now is not the time to donate. Just kindly let the charity or organization know that now is not the right time and they should reach out to you later down the road. Believe me, I’ve been there, and there’s nothing wrong with being honest. If the well is dried up, there’s nothing you can do.
If you’re doing ok financially but you can’t donate as much as they are asking, just kindly let the charity or organization know that you can’t donate something of the value that they are requesting, but that you’ll kindly donate within your means. So, if they are asking for you to donate a painting, but you can’t donate something that expensive, let them know that you’ll donate a framed print, or if that is still too expensive for you, donate a matted print without the frame.
Something I do often is if I have a painting that hasn’t sold for a while, I might donate an older piece like that. The painting is still new in the eyes of the recipient and I don’t have to do any immediate painting for the fundraiser item, the time and energy to create the painting has already been done a while ago. This is great because you’re still reaping the rewards in many ways. You’re gaining exposure to a new audience, you’re giving away an older piece of artwork that will free up some space in your studio, your giving to charity and helping them raise money, and who knows what other opportunities the donation could lead to.
2. Something Is Better Than Nothing
I know this concept is hard to adopt since it’s hard enough to make a living as an artist as it is and it feels like these charities or organizations are squeezing blood out of a rock when it comes to your lively hood, but I promise you, if you can donate even a little, this will lead toward more opportunities down the road.
When you donate to charities and organizations they absolutely LOVE you and they typically ask for your business cards to display at their fundraising event, mention you in the newsletters, or even list you on their website or broadcast you on social media. They’re more than willing to give you the exposure you deserve, and they don’t take your services for granted. I think if you’re just starting out as an artist, this is a great way to begin building an audience and earn a great reputation for yourself. From the many years that I’ve donated to charities and organizations, it usually always leads toward more opportunities like being hired for commission paintings, possible fine art sales, murals, being hired for paint parties, or even an easy subscribe on the mailing list.
3. Give Art In Place of Traditional Gifts
Since we’re on the topic of giving, another thing that I like to do is give my artwork away to friends and family for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and other sentimental occasions. I think this is a smart way to give within your means and also give a unique gift giving idea that will be more meaningful to the recipient.
Think about all the times that you’ve been to weddings and typically gave $50 or $75 to cover your plate of food at the wedding. As artists, sometimes scraping together a monetary gift for a big occasion like a wedding is hard to come by. Why not give a painting or framed print for a fraction of the price instead? I know many of you may think this is the cheap way out, but whenever I walk into a reception hall at a wedding carrying in a large wrapped present, I look much more authentic than everyone else that carries in an envelope. It’s a great feeling and I’m not breaking the bank in the process.
To Wrap Up
What are some of the ways that you give to charities and organizations as an artist? Have you had instances where it was hard to say no? I’d love to hear your thoughts! To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the Facebook and Twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
J.J. Long is the founder and CEO of JJArtworks. J.J. has been professionally painting, singing, acting, writing, teaching, and doing voiceovers for over 13 years. The purpose of our blog is to help artists thrive in their own businesses by sharing valuable and sincere content.