Get Your Church Involved!
As with any event fundraiser, make sure that a charity art show is something your congregation is enthusiastic about, and something which they'll have a good time helping you organize. You'll need energetic and friendly volunteers for planning, setup and cleanup, and to spread the word about your fundraising effort. Talk to members of your church and make sure that this is an idea in which everyone feels confident.
Ideas for Charity Art Shows
There are a few different ways a charity art show can be run successfully. One way is to hold the show as a contest, where local artists can showcase their work for a small entry fee in order to be professionally judged, with donated prizes for winners in various categories, like watercolors, acrylics, oil painting, and sculpture.
Another way to set up your show involves finding artists willing to show their work in the interest of selling it for your church's benefit, giving a percentage of the sale (up to 100%, in the case of generous souls) to you, the organizer of the show. This can be an outstanding way to raise funds, and gives local artists some much-deserved exposure and a place to display their work.
Regardless of the type of art show you choose, you'll want to keep a few things in mind. Obviously, you'll need a space in which to display all this beautiful artwork. If you don't feel your church or meeting hall is appropriate for an event of this kind, consider approaching local malls, civic centers, libraries, flea markets, galleries, or colleges, as they are often willing to host events for a good cause at reduced rates or no cost at all.
Additionally, be aware of what you'll need to display the art - will most of it be hanging on walls, or will you need presentation areas, like tables or folding boards? Good lighting is also essential; keep in mind that your artists have put their hearts into these pieces, and correspondingly try to display them in the best possible way. Will you be providing packing materials to protect your patrons' new artwork for transport? Large sculptural items may need to be delivered -- are your donating artists willing to help with these arrangements?
It's also a great idea to have a wide range of prices and styles of art on display, so people with differing tastes and budgets will find something they'd like to take home with them. If you've got big ticket items, it might be a good idea to display them in a separate room from the main show, so that people aren't intimidated by the prices.
You may consider sending personalized invitations to community leaders who you think might be interested in such artwork, asking them to RSVP, but making follow-up phone calls either way. For expensive pieces, it's also prudent to have a credit card machine on hand, so people can pay on the spot. If your church doesn't have one, these devices are available for rent, or a local gallery may be able to lend you theirs for the evening.
Planning and Advertising Your Charity Art Show
When picking a date and time for your show, try for a weekend or evening when there are no conflicting events that might decrease traffic for your fundraiser -- things like garden shows, dog shows, musical events, or special art exhibits may be geared toward the audience you're looking to attract.
To get the word out, consider printing up classy fliers with all of the relevant information people will need to find and commit to your fundraiser - what it will benefit, where it is, when it will be held, and how they can help, in addition to a small map of the location. You can distribute these to local civic centers, museums, and art galleries -- any place, really that you think the people likely to attend will see your advertisements.
Also consider local newspapers' community calendar sections or letters to the editor, or contacting area radio stations in the interest of having them run PSA's announcing your charity show. Another great way to drum up enthusiasm in the community is to talk to the art departments in local schools and universities -- these younger folks are local artists, too, and their teachers and professors likely have some great contacts within your local art scene. These are the perfect sort of people to ask to be judges or contributors to your fundraiser, and they'll help to draw a larger and more diverse crowd to your event, as well.
Extra Fundraising Ideas
If you're looking to augment your show's profit a bit, there are many easy ways to do so. If you're putting on a judged show, consider a silent auction, arranging for a small number of pieces to be donated and bid upon throughout the course of the evening. You can also sell food and drinks to your guests, in a similar manner to a bake sale. Raffling off a particularly beautiful piece can be another great way to increase your donations.