Just to be clear, this article focuses on the idea of donating an artwork that you create to a charity. This is not about taking the Rothko off your wall and handing it over to your old school to hang in the dining hall which is completely different.
What normally happens is the artist – especially if you’re well known – gives a charity they like a piece of artwork. The charity will then usually put the article into an auction with the hope of raising a gazillion dollars. The artist only gets to claim the tax deduction at the value of the artwork when given away. Not its eventual sale price – which is a shame.
What then is the motivation for giving artwork for charitable donations? There are a lot of reasons why you might want to donate artwork. If you feel a special connection to a particular charity then giving them something that is of potentially huge value is about the best thing you could do.
But there is a symbiosis here. This is not a one-way street. Charities are a well-oiled marketing machine if they are any good whatsoever. By giving a piece of art to a charity who then includes your piece in all their marketing has the potential to get your work to a much larger audience than you could – and it will do it faster than you could too.
That’s not to say that donating a piece is a cynical marketing exercise it is not. Just think of the amount of work you put in to create it – the amount of your soul that went into it. But at the end of the day if you want to make a living as an artist, your job is to get to as many people as possible.