mares of diomedes

The Charity Donation Condundrum …. solved?

I get the feeling that artists are finally willing to stand up for themselves and not be bullied or “shamed” (you expect to be paid? but this is for charity!) in to donating their art, and I think that they would almost jump at any effort from non profits and businesses actually respecting their work as a valuable commodity… obviously it is valuable enough that their work is constantly requested for a silent auction or other fundraising project.

This is a problem that I feel personally invested in, and I’m trying to establish a win win scenario for all involved.  I think I have found a way it can be done

The Proposal
It’s been a common goal of many businesses that they become more involved and invested in their local arts and culture.  At the same time, I am suggesting that the non profit approach the idea of art in silent auctions or art in their fundraising schemes, in a different way.  Here it is:  they ask their favourite business to choose their favourite artist(s) and buy an artwork from them, then donating that work to their charity.

The Benefits
What would be the benefit to the business and the charity?  Bragging rights of donating, bragging rights of supporting (really supporting as in $$) the local art scene, being able to pinpoint a favourite artist,  plus they get their tax receipt for their purchase price from the organization supported by the receipt from the artist (why this is important will be explained in a minute). Because they are invested, they share this with their business partners and customers, boosting the event’s promotion, and the charity gains the exposure it so desperately needs.  The artist and the artwork is respected.  It becomes important for that business’ donated work to get a higher bid. I can’t see how this would fail. It just needs to be championed and done!

Better than nothing, you say?
There is a misconception that perhaps the artwork was originally purchased  by someone and then donated to the charity for auctioning off.  Nine point nine times out of ten, this is not the case.  Charities who ask for work from artists  expect it to be given for free, and we artists are expected to be honoured to be asked. (We aren’t.) Oh, but there is a reserve, and the artist gets paid 50 or 60 or 70% of the money coming in. What does that work out to, really?  50% of 30% of an artwork’s value… you tell me.  It’s better than nothing, some people say.  I say, artists, hold out for the brass ring, and keep a reserve all right … reserve your work for those who really respect it.  There is no one strong arming you, and they came to you.  Be the apple at the top of the tree.

Remember the point about a receipt?

Canada Revenue also recently changed the guidelines for cultural donations. Quite frankly, it does not do artists or investors any favours. Normally, for cultural institutions such as public galleries, art is not purchased from the artist, it is donated by the artist, and or donated by the patron.  The quick and dirty on that new CRA guideline is that artworks considered Cultural Property donated to Art Galleries and such, may be given a taxation receipt, but that receipt must be the value of what that patron paid for it, regardless of how many years ago.  So that means is if an Emily Carr, for example, bought by Mr Z in 1960 for 20,000$ is donated to the local gallery, Mr Z will get a receipt for 20,000$, regardless if that Emily Carr was worth 2.5 million today.

Changes such as what CRA did for 2014 really highlights the necessity of creating clean donations.  I would not be surprised to see CRA do audits on non profits, and really question why they are giving receipts to artists for their donation of artwork, when their artwork is getting less than 30% of the market value.  I might be naive, but I really think there are businesses out there who don’t want to do what was always done, and who are looking at a way to become personally invested in the local art scene, and perhaps support some local organizations at the same time.  I’d be interested in connecting with these businesses, so if you are one of them, send me a note.

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