Auctioning Art

Non Profit Organizations
People who work for non profits do not work for free, they get paid. They need to learn that just because it's a non profit, they can't automatically ask for something without giving something in return. I was recently reading about where artists have asked the auction to share the proceeds 50:50. It creates a situation where everyone is happy. The organization gets some money and the artist gets enough for their work to make them happy to donate again in the future.

What they fail to understand (unless there have been changes) is that according to federal tax laws, artists can only deduct the cost of materials, not their labor. So if something takes 20 hours to create and an artist normally prices it at $1,000, they can only deduct the actual material cost, which may be a few dollars. It becomes a loosing situation for an artist to donate their work, which can be compared to throwing it away.

Art Show Auctions
At art shows the 50:50 split can even work better because the artists are willing to promote the auction in their booths. As compared to shows that take work for auction and give you a sign to hang up that you have a work in the auction area leaving you to recommending people to go to the auction instead of purchasing from you. It also gives the show incentive to set a higher opening bid price so your hard work doesn't go for pennies.

Promotion as a Reward
I attended a seminar by a top portrait/wedding photographer. He explained that he's always asked to donate his services to various non profit or church groups. He's made it a policy to donate but ask for promotion in an equal value for any event he's donating to. That may be a prominent full page ad in a program or a large banner with his name hanging over examples of his portrait or wedding photographs. Obvious this is always worked out in advance and in writing before any services is given.


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