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Donating Your Work or Services

Fall seems to be ripe with opportunities for you to donate your work, whether that’s your original artwork or your product, such as a pattern or book. We all receive letters from charitable organizations, including guilds, asking for donations. While it’s wonderful to support so many worthwhile organizations, you cannot support them all. You may not have enough stock nor time to create more. And, if you respond to all the requests, your business could take a serious financial hit. On the plus side, you may get some media coverage and gain a collector of your work. When considering such requests, here are some suggestions/guidelines:

1. Choose a few charities that you care about and give to them. I’m partial to the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. Many quilters have given to Fiberart for a Cause. Kathy Thompson with Quilters Dream Batting has started a project for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The Quilts of Valor is another popular project. It will be easy to find a charity that touches your heart.

2. If you are an artist who is asked for a donation, consider asking the organization to share in the proceeds if your piece is auctioned. Ask that a reserve (or minimum) price be set for your work. This is particularly true if you are donating a one-of-a-kind piece of a great value. The organization still receives a fair return, and you should be able to recoup the costs of your materials. If you donate a great deal of artwork that sells for lower prices, this could “devalue” your artwork to your regular audience.

3. Remember that you are only permitted to write off on your taxes the costs of your materials. You are not permitted to write off the value of your art and your time. Perhaps you’ll find a better option is to make a monetary donation that you can deduct fully.

4. Consider offering prints or giclees of your work in lieu of the original artwork. Check our blog for the post on giclees or refer to Issue 112 of The Professional Quilter for the full article.

5. Consider who receives your donation. I regularly receive requests from guilds across the country to donate something for their annual show or shop hop. Since our audience is limited to professionals, I have no way of knowing if a professional will win the prize. If I choose to make a donation, I do it as a gift certificate and include information about IAPQ. Hopefully a professional will take me up on the gift.

6. Sending a gift certificate, as I do, is an option for many, particularly with the requests for guild shows. Pattern designers can send a pattern – either new or one that is no longer being produced – or a gift certificate with a catalog. Longarm quilters, already so generous with their time, can offer to quilt a top for someone who is making a charitable donation.

What are you guidelines or suggestions for donations?

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5 Responses to “Donating Your Work or Services”

  1. Linda J. Hahn said:

    I have had occasional donation requests for long arm quilting, some of which I honor, some I do not. One particular request of note is a woman from several towns away wanted me to quilt (and donate the batting) their school quilt. I knew none of the participants, my daughter didn’t go to their school. She knew the type of quilting she wanted – custom – with many thread changes. I explained that I would give them a discount, but I would not donate the entire service – the woman get very ignorant and told me “you don’t seem to understand that the kids colored the bocks and the mothers helped them”. After I explained the costs and time involved in what she wanted and that it was not cost effective for me, again offering the discount – she started yelling at me that as a business I should be supporting “our children” in their creative efforts. I politely ended my end of the conversation.

    I quilt (and my friend donates her binding services) all my class samples and donate them to the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue. They put them in goodie bags or auction them off to raise money for their Cody Lifesaver Fund. Golden retrievers have a special place in our heart. I don’t even write it off – I just want to help them.

  2. Diane McGregor said:

    Since 2003 Castilleja Cotton has donated $12,000 in patterns to various quilt groups for retreats, shop hop and shows. As well Castilleja Cotton has also donated $5000 in quilts to various group such as The Quilt Project (breast cancer support), schools, music programs and women in need groups.
    I usually try to donate something to most groups that ask for a donation usually quilt patterns since I always seem to have some around. I look at it as an inexpensive advertising cost. I might look more a gift certificate in the future to get people to look at my online store.

  3. Lezley, Quilts of Valour - Canada said:

    As one of those organizations that depends on the generosity of the guilters and shops to support them, I say “Thank You”. We understand you cannot support all and we understand if you already have a charity of choice! There are many businesses out there, and you can say “not at this time”. Linda – how inconsiderate of that woman! I hope you never get a QoV “request” like that! and Diane – that gift certificate idea is wonderful! Sometimes (often times), the fabric donated to causes is something no one else wants – free yes, usable no. The certificate allows the recipient to pick what is appropriate – and (haveing worked in a quilt shop), you can be they spend more in your store! Your support (everyone) is truly appreciated.

  4. Beth Smith said:

    I have donated my longarm services for two years so that my guild can produce quilts for Habitat for Humanity families. Donations of fabric and supplies are always welcome, and once it gets out that you’re quilting for others, donations will come your way in a steady stream from lots of sources. I can’t count the number of quilts I’ve quilted for both Habitat and a battered women’s shelter, but it’s in the hundreds. After we moved a couple of states away from the guild, I have continued to make quilt tops for the women’s shelter quilts (the guild does the rest). For individuals and businesses who donate fabric and supplies, please accept my thanks and appreciation for being part of an effort that gives warmth and hope to the recipients.

  5. Laura Estes said:

    As time allows, (paying customers always come first) I try to get a half dozen patterns off to all requests. I include website info in each pattern, and flyers about my website if it is an event with an information table or display. Additionally, I contact the chairperson to see if I might obtain the vender list and often I can pick up a trunk show booking from that list. Shops are eager to have something new to show, and all are short on time to produce new models, and not all shops make it to Market, so what I have available is new for them.

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