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Artists and Donating Artwork: What You Need to Know

Artists and Donating Artwork: What You Need to Know

The Artist's Dilemma: Pros and Cons of Donating Artwork to Charity

As an artist, few experiences can be as gratifying as seeing one's work appreciated and valued by others. However, the request to donate artwork to charities is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it presents an opportunity to make a difference and contribute to a noble cause. However, on the other hand, artists face several considerations when deciding whether to part with their creations.

I often get asked to donate artwork, and I usually do especially with charities that are close to my heart, having donated many pieces over the years of my career. Still, we artists often find that financially it's a huge cost that comes off our bottom line.

Furthermore, we rarely get recognition for our donation (The usual pay off is an offer of our name on a programme or mentioned during the auction which sadly doesnt pay the bills.), as that recognition usually goes to the event organiser for securing the artwork donations, or the people who buy the artwork.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of donating artwork to charity from an artist's perspective.

Ive Got nothing to Wear painting with clothes in a closet donated to charity by Collette

"I've Got Nothing to Wear" donated by Collette to the Big Hearts Charity 

Pros of Donating Artwork to Charity:

Social Impact: 

Donating artwork to charity provides artists with a platform to support causes they deeply care about. In addition, art can inspire, provoke emotions, and initiate conversations. By contributing their work to charities, artists can help raise awareness, promote social change, and positively impact their communities. And yes most of us do want to do our bit.

Exposure and Networking: 

Charitable events often attract influential individuals, collectors, and art enthusiasts. Donating artwork can provide valuable exposure for artists if it's organised correctly, allowing them to reach a broader audience. This exposure can lead to new opportunities, collaborations, and potential sales. Additionally, connecting with like-minded individuals at charity events can foster valuable relationships within the art community.

Tax Benefits:

In many countries including New Zealand, artists may be eligible for tax deductions when they donate their artwork to qualified charitable organisations. These deductions can offset the costs of creating art, providing financial relief to artists while supporting a cause they believe in.

However, you need to be aware that proving the costs or getting proof of sale for tax relief is often not provided, so you may end up not being able to claim any costs and be out of pocket. 

Those Old Brown Shoes donated to charity auction by Collette

"Those Old Brown Shoes" donated by Collette to True Colours Charity

Cons of Donating Artwork to Charity:

Financial Considerations:

Creating art requires time, effort, and materials, all of which have associated costs. Donating artwork means foregoing potential sales or auction revenue. For emerging artists or those struggling financially, this loss may pose a significant challenge to their livelihoods.

Value Assessment:

The value of an artwork can fluctuate over time, influenced by an artist's growing reputation, market demand, and critical acclaim. Donating a piece of art means relinquishing control over its future monetary worth. This can be particularly concerning if an artist's work becomes highly sought after in the future.

Siamese Cat pet portrait by Collette Fergus

"The Siamese" Pet Portrait donated to the SPCA Charity

Overwhelming Demand:

Artists who gain recognition for their talents might receive numerous requests to donate their artwork. Managing these requests can become overwhelming, especially when artists must balance their desire to contribute with the need to sustain their careers.

Remember too tha its ok to say no to some requests as it may be necessary to protect your artistic practice and personal well-being.

Opps Oh My painting  of wooden Mary lou Doll, donated to charity by Collette

"Opps Oh My" Mary Lou Doll painting donated by Collette to the Beads of Courage Child Cancer Foundation Charity

At the End of the Day:

Deciding whether to donate artwork to charity is a deeply personal choice for artists. While there are clear benefits regarding social impact, exposure, and potential tax benefits, artists must carefully consider the financial implications and the value they attach to their creations.

Yes artists are seen to be happy living off the smell of an oily rag but thats a myth that needs busting, as although artists do art because they love it, they too need to feed ther families and put roofs over their heads.

Striking a balance between philanthropy and maintaining one's artistic integrity is crucial. Ultimately, artists should follow their intuition, focusing on causes they are passionate about and finding ways to contribute that align with their overall artistic goals and sustainability.

Pink Bra painting donated to Breast Cancer Charity by Collette

"Pink Bra" donated to Breast Cancer Foundation for Breast Cancer Research

Small dress painting donated to charity by Collette

"The Dress" donated to Freeing Children from Brick Kilns slavery in Pakistan

Posted: Sunday 4 June 2023

Don't forget to take a look at more of New Zealand contemporary artist's work in Collette's Online Galleries