Tips for Donating Your Handmade Jewelry to a Charitable Organization

Studio Notes – Donating Your Handmade Jewelry for Charity Fundraisers


Metalwerx of Waltham, MA is having a big fundraiser March 31 and recently asked me for a donation of my handmade jewelry. I’ll be teaching pearl carving there in April, and immediately agreed to send them a pendant that sells for $125. Metalwerx is a 501c(3) non-profit organization, so my contribution will be tax deductible.

Problem:  “Except, only the exact cost of the materials is deductible,” says Alanna Robbins, who is organizing the donations for the school. No mark up, no labor cost. She is friendly and honest about this as she talks me through the process. According to tax law, only the cost of the materials is tax deductible, she says.

So I Do the Math

The Math:  one pearl $5; one chain with clasp $8; a couple inches of 20-gauge sterling silver wire and one little dot of sterling silver casting shot $0.50. That’s a grand total of $13.50.

Hmmmm, I think. How could I make this work better? Besides, I’m on deadline for this blog. How can I make deadline, create a useful post for other jewelers, make a donation and promote my pearl carving class all at the same time?

Solution: I add a gift box that cost me $4.34; Sunshine polishing cloth for $1.25; packing material $0.50; shipping box $0.86; mailing label $0.10; packaging tape $0.10; postage $3.40; dental grade diamond ball bur $5.99, and business card. The bur is used in the class I teach. It’s a “gift with purchase” thing.

Now I have a donation worth about $30. Metalwerx will photograph the piece professionally and auction it off on eBay with help from the Paypal Giving Fund. I will post their auction on my blog and on Facebook. They will promote my class and both of these efforts could attract buyers for both of us.  It’s a win-win-win-win-win situation that keeps ricocheting around. But nobody gets hurt.

There is another important element to this. Their first auction in 2014 raised $10,000, says Joan Dusoe, Metalwerx assistant director. So they have a good track record. They also are a great school, and I was delighted to be asked. Thank you Alanna!

To learn more about Metalwerx and their classes, visit their website. For more on my pearl carving classes, go to

Betsy Lehndorff has written for Lapidary Journal Jewlery Artist since 2010. She has been a silversmith for nine years.

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