Artists are often asked to donate items for charity auctions and fundraisers. And while most people love the idea of contributing to the greater good, a fundraising auction can end up hurting your career if you're not careful. I found a great article by ArtBusiness.com that lists several pointers for artists seeking auction success.
Here are 9 key takeaways from this article:
1. The best events are those that support visual arts organizations and attract buyers from visual arts communities, like collectors.
2. Donate to non-art-related fundraisers only when it's an organization you feel strongly about. You'll be happy with your contribution even if you don't achieve any professional gain from the experience.
3. Find out how you (the artist) and your item will be presented. What will be said about you? Will your art be presented live or by photograph? Will your contact information be published in the program or on the website?
4. Talk to the people conducting the auction and ask what types of items (and prices) will sell best.
5. Donate a good piece of art. You want your donation to serve as a positive reflection of your talent.
6. Include your bio and contact information with your item.
7. Set the minimum opening bid and selling prices as low as is reasonable.
8. Cooperate with the people running the auction and do everything possible to make sure your art sells.
9. Do not donate to every cause that requests a donation. If you want to support many charities, sell your art through galleries or retail outlets and donate the money.
We also asked our Facebook fans to contribute their ideas for having success at a charity auction.
"A minimum on bids is the most important... I've donated several pieces that even though have been for a great cause, go well below their value. I'd honestly rather sell them at a show and donate the money..." - Zachary Nafziger
"Don't overprice your talent!" - Lynwood David Sumner, Jr.
"I donated a piece and the lady who bought it thought she got it cheap. It just so happened she used to do glass years ago. She called a couple of weeks later and asked us to come over. She was cleaning her garage out and gave me all of her equipment and glass. A gold mine to me. I got repaid so far beyond what I donated!" - Becky Steidel
"Are you putting it up for auction online or at an auction house? If you are doing it online to make money, the very first thing you need is an excellent photo of the work. It needs to be perfect. Perfect lighting, perfect contrast, perfect color. Size need to be indicated in one of the photos. Then you need to figure out how art is selling on the site you are selling it on. Check out other pieces to see if they are getting good prices. You might want to post a resume of your sales along with your work -- Make the buyer understand that you have a good sales record and your work is worth the price." - Liz Bradbury
"If you are donating it, make sure to place an "at or above" value on it so that people know the value of what they're bidding on. I found when I did that, folks bid higher & sometimes the bidding frenzy took over and a good amount of money was made." - Jan Kraft Wangler
"I have donated yard art for the Kinship fundraiser. Yard art is always a big hit." - Dora Coil
"All I do now is donate my glass to nonprofit silent or live auctions. Put the value high and set a minimum bid. The price it gets depends on the group attending. I've had my stuff practically given away (until I started putting a minimum bid) and I've had a 12-inch plate go for $450+... it really depends on the wallet of the crowd. Auctions where the attendees paid to attend versus a PTA fundraiser for a public school are two different beasts." - Mindy Meyn Baker
I also recommend these reference books for selling your art: Photographing Arts, Crafts and Collectibles; The Basic Guide to Pricing Your Craftwork and Marketing and Selling your Handmade Jewelry. Good luck!
Photo credit: Getty Images, photos.com