Benefits, fundraisers and charity art shows

Often, organizations will appeal to local artists to sell their artwork at their benefit, fundraiser or Charity auction. How can you help them AND sell your paintings. We can help worthwhile causes, promote our names and at the same time, move paintings…. Here’s a few tips ….

Sooner or later, we all realize that in order to continue feeding our addiction to art, selling some of it is a great way to accrue cash for supplies, canvas, more lessons and the field trips.

As you become known in your local area by throwing a home party now and then, someone is going to approach you and ask to participate in a charity event or auction. Consider it.

There’s typically a fee to participate if its a showing… In other words, a hall is rented and everyone is asked to pay a price to ‘rent’ a table. Fees range from $25.00 to $100.00 or more. Time frames are generally a single day, but sometimes can span the weekend.

What questions do you need to ask to find out if this event is for you.

What’s the event attendance for the past 3 years? History will give you an idea whether or not this show is growing or declining in popularity.
What’s the history for vendors? How many first time vendors? How many repeat vendors? This quickly lets you know whether or not other vendors have considered this event worth attending.
Talk to previous vendors to get their reaction.
What kind of publicity program is being done by the organizers? Estimated attendance this year? What’s the major drawing power of the show or what compels people to take time off curing their valuable weekend to come to this particular show.
What’s the average cost of items offered by other vendors? (Why? Because if you’re trying to sell $175.00 paintings and all other vendors are selling $15.00 items, its the wrong crowd for you…)
What’s the average sales per event for vendors…?
What kind of other vendors will be participating…..if they’re all selling farm implements, this may not be good, unless you’re selling paintings of antique farm equipment. In other words, match up your products with the true interests of your audience. If its pet supplies, consider pet portraits. You get the idea.
What type of special show offer can you put together that will match the main interest and special pampering of the show organizers. For example, if the proceeds of the show’s rental fees are to go for cancer research, than consider raffling off one of your paintings for a $1.00/ticket in which those proceeds go directly to the same cancer research organization. I did this one year and raised $6,500 for the charity organizers and $31,000 for myself from other sales. We just never know…..but explore the interest persuaders and determine if there’s any leverage for you.

IF you decide this show is still beneficial, or one of the show organizers is your spouse, than decide what to take, pricing, displays, and lead generation program.

I always believe in asking attendees for their names, addresses and email. Here’s why…. you’re in this benefit showing, you can now promote it to these very same people as news. In other words, Dear Amy, just wanted to let you know that I’ve decided to join this year’s exhibition at the ‘Really Cool Lodge’ that’s a benefit show for the ‘Really Cool Cause.’ If you can, come on by. I haven’t seen you in a while and this will be a good time to catch up. I’ve got some new paintings I’ll be showing for the first time that may be of interest to you. The show is on ….., at ……… and starts at …. a.m.’

Not everyone is going to like what you have. Just realize this and get over it. Some are even insensitive enough to critique right in front of you. Just don’t let that impact you. Stay positive. Less than 20% of any show’s attendance (And this is for highly productive shows) is really a candidate for you. Probably closer to 5%. So when you hear negative, its in the 80% No Buy category, so don’t worry about it. As you ‘man’ or ‘woman’ your table, find the 5% who are the potential ‘Buyers’ for your product. Your first job is to sort.

Most newbies believe if they say the right magical words, they’ll sell their paintings. If only that were true, I’d chant those words before every sales engagement. Your job at the table is as follows:

Make it easy for the client to buy from you.
Answer questions
Once you’ve found what they’re looking to purchase, than let them know if you have it or can make it for them.
IF they’re one of the 80 percent, just thank them for dropping by and quickly move onto the next site visitor.
Focus on finding those 20 percent.
Build your list, so have a mechanism for to collect names, addresses, emails.
If you can, have an inexpensive item to sell. People love buying from people more than once. Why? They prefer to buy from a friend rather than a company no matter how good that company’s reputation and customer service. Be that friend, but never forget, they’re your customer.
Give your brochure only to the 20 percent. What will the 80 percent do? They’ll toss it. So its a waste of money to give it to them initially. This will cut your cost and by selectively handing out these brochures, you’re qualifying the prospect and making them feel special by giving them the brochure.

As you gain experience and success in selling your art through these types of organizations you’ll develop a feel for which events are best for you.

If you’ve not displayed at a show before, than let me encourage you to contact private schools and local charities and find out what fundraisers they’re planning for the upcoming year. Most such organizations will jump at the chance to add another vendor and will easily provide fee structure, commission payments if required, and any information you want so you can answer those questions I listed above. Evaluate shows before you commit to selling at them.

One word of caution….most such organizers limit how many of each type of vendor are invited to participate. So really look over the past attendance records by type and find out if other vendors in your field have done well or poorly.

It’s not all benefits just for you. Organizers have to benefit from your participation as well. Manage and sell well for both of you and the organizers will invite you again, again and again.

Let me know how your shows turn out.