Free Art for Sale – Donating Art to Charity

I come across various articles on why artists should not donate their art to charities. The reasons vary from…

– it brings down the value of art in general
– a lot of artists already live at the poverty line and it is unfair
– donating your art doesn’t get you the exposure you think it will
– etc, etc, etc

Personally I believe that if the only reason you are donating art to charity is for the exposure then you are doing it for the wrong reason.

Personally I believe that if you are donating art to charity it should be for a cause you actually believe in.

Generally, working artists don’t have a lot of extra cash hanging around so donating an artwork is one way for them to help charities they believe in.

Personally I believe that charities think that artists are an easy group to exploit for a means to their end. Is this not like robbing Peter to support Paul? AND What artist doesn’t want exposure for their work?

Personally I believe that exposure has nothing what so ever to do with it. Donate because you believe and truly want to help. Is it not a bit self serving to donate art to charity solely for exposure?

Don’t be fooled that you’ll get discovered this way because when you’re not you’ll feel worse or that your work isn’t good enough. Don’t prostitute yourself! No, wait, even the prostitute gets paid.

This is only my opinion, yours may be different. Feel free to express it in the comments below.

Tweet: If the only reason for donating art to charity is for exposure then it’s the wrong reason




  1. I donate to charity auctions when the artist can receive 50% of the selling price. I think this is a win win situation for both the charity and the artist. Have also been able to make use of the donation receipts as income tax deductions. The income from the donation must also be included. And the only times I have donated the full 100% was when it was to a charity that I chose myself, and believed in as well.

    • That’s great Lorna. I see now reason why both parties can’t come away with something.

  2. Agree with your reasons for not donating.
    People don’t bid for art at auctions in order to be generous to a cause: they are looking for bargains. People asking for art assume artists are endless supply of work for free. Would they expect to ask a clothes shop for a £600 dress?
    Worse still is when art is sold below its value. You have to set reserve price at the cost.
    Having said all that, for a cause you believe in, it’s still something you can do and can raise much-wanted funds.

    • Hi Kate, you’re right about the work selling below value. For some reason people seem to think that there’s not costs involved in making art. Lay people need to visit the local art supply store, there’s a shock waiting to happen.

  3. I agree with Kim. I have also seen the exploitation of an artist’s work in terms of reproduction rights. The charities also use donated art as a free source of publicity art for the event. This is exposure, but do they put an artist name on the advertising? Often they don’t, unless the artist insists upon it, as an former illustrator this is what often keeps me from donating my images. Reproduction right should be SOLD as well, not just the original image. That’s what a copyright is for! So the artist makes the money from their own work, not just anyone else who has access to the image. However, there are a few causes that I believe in enough to not care about credit or money, only a few. So there you have it.

    • Copyright is such a huge issue these days and through out history. Someone should do a genealogy search for the descendants of histories great artists and have them try and get royalties.