Both myself and Cow Art and More get requests from many worthy charities and non profits for art donations. The requests are usually for pieces for a silent auction, raffle, or door prize. Since I have created a new sterling silver charm with a portion of the sale price to go to a charity, I wanted to share 10 points for others to learn how to successfully approach a person or entity for an art donation for their cause.
1. Approach an artist or gallery you have a good relationship with. This could be that you are a regular customer or regularly interact via social media or live events.
2. Approach someone that has strong feelings about the charity or non profit group you are raising funds for. For example, when the president of the National Holstein Women's Scholarship Organization approached me about a fundraising joint venture, as a past scholarship winner, I wanted to make sure the program could continue and was happy to step up and do my part.
3. Know that artists and galleries get MANY requests for donations. This may even be a good way to lead into your request: "You must get lots of requests to donate your beautiful paintings. Our organization would be grateful if you would at least consider making a donation for our annual fundraiser."
4. Write your request to an actual person! Research the gallery and/or artist to find an actual contact person versus sending your request to "To Whom It May Concern".
5. Share what the artist and/or gallery can expect to receive in return for their donation. Are you going to feature the art and/or the artist in a brochure or catalog about the event? Will the artist's work be shown with their name and photograph? Are you asking the artist or a gallery representative to make a personal appearance?
6. A little flattery goes a long way (but be sincere!) Get to know the gallery or artist and their art first before you ask for a donation. It will be much easier for you to talk about their art and why you find it a good fit for your charity event.
7. Consider asking if the artwork is available for purchase at the wholesale price (since you are asking on behalf of a charity). While artists and galleries may balk at giving up art outright, they may consider selling it to the charity at a discount. Cow Art and More has done that for several non profit organizations with good success. Our artists got to make a sale, the charity got the retail profit, and I was happy knowing that Cow Art and More was able to help a worthy organization.
8. Don't forget to follow up with a handwritten thank you on a nice card or stationery. Not a postcard. Not an email. Not a "thank you" buried somewhere on your website. A thoughtful, handwritten thank you goes a long way in getting the artist or gallery to make a donation again.
9. Know that some of the artists and galleries are going to say no (and remind yourself this is okay). It might be the artists doesn't have any inventory to spare or can't afford the donation. Regardless, thank him or her for their time and ask if it's okay for you to contact them in the future.
10. Lastly, do not tell the artists what they can or can't do in terms of how this donation relates to their tax situation. Donating art is a tricky situation; recommend the artist or gallery consult their financial adviser for advice on this matter.