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Art Auction Fundraising Ideas 

Art Auction Fundraising Ideas 

If you’re looking for traditional ways to fundraise then look no further than the art world. For centuries art has held its value. You only need to look at the pieces you find hanging in galleries to know that there is a lot of money in artwork, but more importantly – resale value. Art is one of the few items that over time, increases in value as long as the artist remains popular in the eye of the public. So don’t write off the idea of an art auction just yet, take a look and we’ll show you how it can be one of the most profitable fundraising events of the year.

Below is our art auction guide to raise money for your business or nonprofit organization. You don’t have to be auctioning off a work of art to make money for your fundraiser. You could have donations from local artists or even sell pictures to parents painted at school by their children. There are money ways to fundraise with art! 

Read the below about setting up your art fundraiser or consider seeing our features to help you run your events such as sealed bidding, silent auction, prize draws or live auction.  

How to set up an art auction

One of the most important things you need to do in order to successfully run your art auction is to gather insights into your art. Once you have all of your art (we’ll get onto how to collect it in a little while) you need to create a catalog for viewing in advance of the event.

People will not come to an art auction if they’re not aware of what artists are being featured. Collectors collect artwork from artists, not necessarily artwork that they like the look of or that is from a specific era. That being said, there are always one or two collectors of a different variety.

But the idea of a catalog works for any type of collector. They need to know what’s going to be on show in order for them to want to attend the event. While some auctions just involve a ‘pitch up and take a look’ effort, art collectors want to know the following before taking their seat:

  • The name of the artist
  • The name of the artwork
  • When the artwork was created
  • Where the artwork was created (for photography)
  • The size of the piece
  • The material it is created from (or painted on)
  • The type of paint used (if any)
  • A picture of the piece
  • Any wear of condition
  • Current market value

All of these factors for each piece of artwork should be popped into a catalog and circulated along with your event. You might host the catalog on a website and then print a booklet off for the event if it’s in person. If you host an online art auction you could save on printing costs and continue to host it on a website.

How to make money from an art auction

Art value is often dictated by public opinion. The more popular an artist is considered, the higher the value of the pieces. Unless there are external factors. For example, a portrait of the Queen of England will always be high in value no matter who painted it, because it’s a first-hand portrait of Her Majesty. 

The more artwork that an artist produces with large public approval, the higher all their pieces increase in value. Consider that when looking at the artwork of a promising artist. If you think that they have great talent and potentially a large resale value in the future, it’s wise to invest sooner than later. All you need to do then is hope others agree with you.

That’s how art auctions make their money. Based on the resale value. There’s no need to go and seek expensive artwork to sell at your auction. You can find relatively inexpensive pieces, write a great catalog for them, perhaps include a fascinating backstory and sell it for a huge profit. Focus more on how interesting the pieces and their artists are when it comes to art auctions, not necessarily how ‘good’ the artwork is – remember that that is subjective.

How to get art for your auction

Before you start thinking that you need a big pot of money to fund an art auction. Think again. There are two methods to collecting art, going straight to the artist or venturing into the resale market yourself.

If you’re going to approach local artists it’s important to remember that you’re looking for a donation. So make sure you have a suitable pitch for your worthy cause and really get them to understand how far their donation will go in terms of helping people. This way, you can bargain for a great discount or even discuss the potential of getting a piece of artwork created especially for the auction.

It has to be said though. If you’re looking for artwork and wanting to go straight to the artist – you don’t necessarily need to find an established professional. You can speak to local artists starting their journey or even enthusiastic students from a school. There are plenty of creative people who are looking to get their artwork into a public space. See if any of these types of artists would be interested in creating a piece. 

However, if you’re looking to create an art auction from the resale market there are plenty of options to source artwork. You might find some on social media selling sites – often these are gold mines for artwork. Mainly because people there aren’t really sure about the true value of the pieces they’re selling. 

You might find some artwork to purchase in local galleries – these are slightly more expensive to set up an art auction with so you should be prepared to invest a little. We suggest that if your charity or cause does not have a big funding pot to start with, then try to keep to more secure methods of obtaining artwork. 

The different pieces of art to get for your art auction

It’s essential for us to say that just because you are running an art auction, does not mean it’s all oil painting and easels. Art can be captured in so many different ways so if you’re looking to host an auction with a lot of variety, take a look at these ideas. Charity auctions need auction items and the best option for your art auction is artists’ donations. Professional artists are used to selling artwork, but they also see value in sharing their work as charity auction items. 

Canvas

A canvas is what most people think of when they think about art. Pen, paint, pencil, pastels, whatever the medium is, put onto a canvas. Canvas’ tend to be the type of art that sells well at an art auction. If you’re looking to find pieces of art but don’t want to search too far to get them, canvas is a great idea. You’ll discover plenty of pieces around your local area, lots of artists using them and galleries selling them too. 

But why are canvas’ so popular at an art auction? Apart from the fact that the medium is popular in society, they’re easy to transport. Whether you’ve hosted your art auction in public or online, you can unstretch a canvas, send it flat and then restretch it when it reaches it’s destination.

Photography

Sadly, there is not so much public support for photography. Those with little understanding of the medium will tell you it’s just a case of pointing a camera in a direction and clicking the shutter. Those who have held a photographers camera and tried themselves know that this is not the case. Apart from perfecting all the various settings there’s also waiting for the perfect lighting opportunity (or creating that yourself also).

Photography takes a lot of effort. It involves manipulating what the naked eye sees without manipulating reality. Capturing the most beautiful lights, colors and tones. Not to mention the artists who add movement into their pieces by fiddling with shutter speed. Photography is an impressive form of art and we recommend every art auction have a few pieces. Especially if you can get some stunning shots of the local area.

Sculpture

The world of sculpture is not fading, despite what many people may have you think, there are still plenty of sculpture artists. It just doesn’t come in the form of busts and Greek gods anymore like it did centuries ago. Sculptures are still being created. However, they are more difficult to sell at an art auction, especially if the artist is not well established and doesn’t already have a following. We suggest the only sculpture you have at your art auction is one you know is in demand on the resale market.

Ceramics

This may come as a surprise, but ceramics are popular at art auctions. Whether that’s online or offline. We believe it has something to do with the beauty of ceramics as they easily fit into the home. You can have display plates on the walls in your kitchens or vases on the dining room table. Ceramics as an art form are chunky, but they easily fit into the home like hanging a picture on the wall.

Whatever artwork you decide to sell at your art auction make sure it’s advertised well and that there is already some demand for it (either the artist or the type of art). This way you’re guaranteed to have a great event.

Givergy can help you run your Art Auction

Here at Givergy, we provide an award-winning fundraising platform that helps you raise more for your event or art auction. We can help you raise money at your live fundraising event or live auction.

See our fundraising services page for full details. 

Ben Crook

Ben Crook

Chief Operating Officer

Ben is at the forefront of every project in Givergy, listing and actioning constant improvements across the business. With over a decade of experience in the charity and events sector he brings a deep understanding of what the fundraising industry needs to operate effectively and efficiently.