Should I donate my artwork?

Mama Bear and Cub ©2014 Mindy LighthipeThis is a question I think all artists should carefully consider before giving away their art. I am frequently approached by numerous organizations to donate a piece of my artwork for a fund raising campaign.

There are so many charitable organizations. Some good, some bad. How do you decide whether you should donate to their cause? Here is a list of things I ask myself if I am considering donating my work:

  •  If I had money to donate, would I give to the organization?
  • How much would I give? 10, 25, 50, 100, or more dollars?
  • One of the things an artist must think about is putting a dollar amount on how much they are willing to donate.

If I donate money, the chances are I would probably donate something somewhere in the range of $25 to $200 to an organization. The art which is donated should not exceed this amount. I am bombarded by many charitable organizations I figure how many I want to give to and  set a dollar figure for each organization. This is the same formula that I would use for donating a piece of artwork. If I can afford $100 to send to an organization, then I can afford to send them a piece of artwork that I would sell for $100. It would be unreasonable for me to donate a $1500 painting to an organization since I make my living as an artist. Donating that painting is a potential loss of $1500.

I believe it is important to support the groups or organizations that follow the same ethics and value systems as my own.

  • Does the organization tell you where the money goes?
  • Are they just soliciting money with no direct usage for the money?
  • How do they allocate the funds?
  • Does the organization have paid employees?
  • Is there a way to see where their funds are being spent?
  • How long has the organization been in existence?
  • Does your artwork in someway fit in to the mission of the organization?

I generally will not donate a piece of my artwork if I find that any of these things do not fit into my vision of where I want to see my work displayed, or how organization conducts itself. I was recently solicited by a volunteer from BEAR EDUCATION AND RESOURCE (BEAR) PROGRAM I did not know that an organization of this kind existed. The volunteer wrote a personal and very poignant letter to me. She gave references and website links in her email which allowed me to go visit the different websites to see what the foundation was all about. From reading the information on their website it was very clear to me that I would be participating in this fundraising campaign. They clearly stated on the website that they are about educating people to conserve wildlife habitat for the black bear in New Jersey. Conservation through education is exactly the affiliation I want to belong too. They are auctioning  artwork in hopes to raise funds to bring educational programs into the classrooms and into neighborhoods so that bears and humans can coexist peacefully. They are lobbying and legislating to have bear proof garbage cans mandatory in areas where bears are known to live in suburban areas. I created this special piece for them. My donation an 11 x 14 colored pencil painting a mother bear and her cub. I estimate that the worth of the painting is about $250. The “Third Annual Silent Art Auction” will take place on November 7th at the Morris Museum at 6 Normandy Heights Rd, Morristown, NJ 07960  (973) 971-3700 If you are in the neighborhood stop by and support this cause!

Remember to make sure when you commit to donating a piece of your artwork that it represents something you believe in.

Any thoughts about this? Please leave your comment. I would love to hear from you.