Mattera has an interesting take on this dilemma, one which I think is very well put and worth a read. I thought it to be humorous, which I’m not sure is how she intended, but I find humor in everything. She points out the general treatment an artist receives in regard to donating art (which is not that great.) The bottom line is: Don’t donate ANYTHING with the intention of receiving anything in return. Not even a tax deduction. Give with a pure heart, or don’t give at all. Don’t let someone try and tell (sell) you that by donating your artwork to their organization you will receive a bunch of exposure, a show, a percentage, a patron contact, or a thank you note. If you cannot give with that in mind – don’t bother. It will just upset you. Don’t let someone shame you or guilt you into giving them money. Right now artists are not making very much money and there is no shame in taking care of yourself and your family first. A person or organization who tries to make you feel otherwise does not deserve anything from you (or in the future) anyway.
It is only April and I have already had more than a dozen individual organizations hit me up to donate original art. I have felt bad but I have donated my limit for the year already, and what most organizations don’t realize is that artists cannot write off the donation like other people/businesses can, an artist can only write off the materials (which is practically nothing) There are other artists who are far more generous than I am, but I always tell people I choose a cause that I really believe in (like animals, autism, or education) and have to say no to the rest. As a struggling artist, I understand their pain as a struggling non-profit (especially in this economy,) but until I become famous and independently wealthy they will have to understand I have to say “NO” from time to time.