I often hear of artists donating artworks to worthy causes and I’m all for that. But there are a few things to keep in mind when you donate works that can be to your advantage.
First and foremost there’s the “I Feel Good” feeling about doing something nice for someone. It’s always nice to be able to give back to organisations that may have helped you in some way and using your art can be the perfect way.
The problem with this is that often, the people or organisation you donate your work to have no real idea of it’s worth even if you tell them – you have to show them. If you are happy to give away your art and soul to someone who doesn’t appreciate the value of what you’ve given… but you still feel good, that’s fine but I believe they should really understand what they’ve been given.
Like the artist I spoke with yesterday. He decided to donate a large artwork to an environmental impact group. He’s passionate about these sort of things and wanted to do something for them. The artwork he wants to donate is about 1.5m square, substantial, and worth a considerable amount of money. He suggested that they could sell reproductions and raise some more money. Problem is – they’ve got no idea about reproductions or how to sell them, price them, handle them, pack them – a bit like every artist when they first walk through the door here!
So, we’ve devised a plan where we will provide the organisation with an image for the website, the text for a page on their site and all the instructions about how to sell reproductions which will provide income for the group, the artist… and of course Art House – everybody wins. If no art sells, the artist loses and we lose but the organisation still gets a great piece of art for free without doing any work. I like Win-Win-Win rather than Lose-Lose-Win.
So here’s a few tips on things to do when you donate a piece of art that will be used to raise funds for someone else.
- Supply them with an invoice for the full value of the artwork – showing a 100% discount. You may be able to claim the amount as a tax deduction (check with your accountant).
- Supply them with a plan for using reproductions as a way to raise funds. Explain how they can sell reproductions of the work you’ve donated, that for every reproduction they sell a percentage of the profits will come back to them.
- Always maintain control of the copyright. Explain to them that while they’ve been given the original there are no usage rights unless you have agreed to them. I’d suggest that if they want to use the image for promotional purposes (other than the promotion of the sale of reproductions), rather than just hang on the wall, then you come to a mutually agreeable fee to do so. For example, let’s say they love the work so much they want to use it in national campaign advertising – billboards, magazines, newspapers etc. That is something that commercial photographers get paid highly for so DON’T GIVE IT AWAY! You’ve just given away your art – you don’t need to keep on giving, because often charities are the first ones to take without due consideration.
- Maintain control of the sales process. In the plan you provide them, explain that all they need to do is promote the works through their site and any other avenue to encourage sales, after all, they will make money from those sales. All orders should come back to you, which you then send to me of course for printing. Once the order is complete it can then be sent back to them for distribution or they can be sent direct by you or me to the purchaser… provided a postage charge has been paid. Postage is always in addition to the cost of the reproductions – minimum of $20 to cover the post and the tube.
So, there we go, a basic plan to turn a donation from you into a Win-Win-Win. If you ever find yourself in this situation and need a hand, please give me a call , I’m happy to help.