Charity Art: Top Tips for Galleries

Galleries and art brokers play an important role as intermediaries between artists and charities. As such, galleries can be very powerful in achieving impact, depending on their role and position and country specific customs and rules.

Charities frequently need resources, sometimes urgently, and artists might feel obligated to help or guilty if they cannot assist. However, there is a limit to how much artists can give without neglecting their own careers, families and themselves. Some artists hardly make enough to sustain their own practice and have to engage in other part-time or full-time jobs to make ends meet. Therefore, it is crucial to find a sustainable long-term balance between compassion for charitable causes and passion for creating art for a living.

Our top tips for galleries:

  1. Set clear goals
  2. Support artists and charities
  3. Make it count
  4. Talk about your good deeds
  5. Create a charitable art ecosystem

1. Set Clear Goals

Decide together with the artist, the charities and the public which causes should be supported and how. Set specific targets to achieve as part of your CSR program. Track the progress and adjust processes accordingly.


“Together with Artist A, we will provide school education for 1,000 Cambodian children over the next 10 years by raising funds with 2 special exhibitions created for this cause.”

2. Support Artists and Charities

Give artists the freedom to do good and do not unnecessarily restrict charitable artists. Consider how could your contracts with the artists be amended to allow for more philanthropic contributions?

Choose the most suitable artists for the charity’s cause while benefiting the artists at the same time. Connect them and broker the deal with clear deliverables and accountability.

If art pieces fail to elicit any bids during charity events at all, the artists’ dealers could buy the piece themselves and try to place them after the auction. Do not just raise funds, but understand how charities achieve their goals. If charities are not doing a good job, find more efficient charities to work with.

Partner up with corporate sponsors to create art specifically for charitable or advertorial purposes. This will benefit all parties involved–galleries, artists and charities.

Allow artists and charities to contractually benefit from a later resale of an art piece by the buyer. For example, if a donated art piece was auctioned off during the charity event for USD20,000 and the buyer resells it for USD50,000 shortly after, the USD30,000 profit (or at least a part of it) should be shared with the artist, the gallery and the charity. Otherwise the artwork was originally sold for a discount, not for charity.

Request buyers of donated artworks to keep giving 1% every time the art piece changes an owner. This might work better for high profile art pieces than for lesser known art.

Organize fundraising events or trips to the beneficiaries (e.g. refugee camps) together with artists and donors. The fruitful and first-hand interaction between artists, donors and beneficiaries might move donors to give even more, if done respectfully and ethically.

3. Make It Count

Communicate with the charity and help artists get timely reports about what happened to their donated art pieces and how much positive impact was created.


Instead of just telling the artist “Your donated art piece was sold,” provide them with a clear report and sense of meaning: “We managed to sell your donated artwork for USD10,000. Together with your previously donated and sold art pieces, we have raised USD50,000 over the last 3 years on behalf of charity A and charity B. As a result, these charities have been able to fund 10 on-the-grounds guards in 2 major national parks in Africa and the annual number of poached endangered animals decreased by 20%.”

4. Talk About Your Good Deeds

There is power in sharing a charity’s story or good deeds. There is always a limit to how much money and time can be donated. The best way to leverage a donation and make it go significantly further is to keep telling the story and inspire others to give as well.

5. Create a Charitable Ecosystem

  • For a more transparent marketplace of artists and charities, register artists online at relevant platforms. Communicate how and how often they are willing to support charities and what causes.
  • Promote a national exchange for charitable artists. This would assists artists in helping each other become more effective, efficient and benefit themselves by helping their peers.
  • Set up or leverage existing online marketplaces that connect artists and charities.
  • Set up a central directory tracking all charity art, showcasing artists and total amounts or art pieces donated.
  • For a more transparent marketplace of artists and charities, register yourself online at relevant platforms, communicate how and how often you are willing to support charities and what causes.
  • Set up a Charity Art Society to communicate clearly with artists, charities and the public regarding how art can support charities to raise awareness and funds, with suggested best practices, and an overview about all charitable art and leverage.
    Set up support systems for artists to overcome temporary financial and other hardships (e.g. WomenArts).
  • Add #ArtPledge to your website and every charitable giving to raise awareness for effective charity through art.
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