Look for a new "Art for Food" auction posting later today. Meanwhile, here'sÂ a follow-up to my previous postÂ Â on the charity art auctions I'm holding for the CVFB. Filed under theÂ "hadn't thought of that one" category: 1. Sales tax:Â Only after a couple of auctions were listed did it dawn on me that IÂ probably had to collect VA sales tax.Â Doh! A call to the VA Dept. of Taxation confirmed this.Â Â I am selling the item and then once I collect the profits, I'm turning around and donating the money to charity. Even though it's a donation, it's still a retail sale and subject to the tax for in-state sales. I can't really do anything about past auctions butÂ pay the tax myself. But for the future a statement to collect salesÂ tax in Virginia will be included in the listings.Â
2. Framing: Due to the time involved inÂ listing and promoting theÂ auctions, making the donations, as well as packaging and shipping (not to mention creating the artwork), I cannot provide an in-house framing service for the charity auctions. Watercolors should be framed under glass, and shipping glass requires a lot more time and care in the packing and additional cost (and risk). It also adds another dimension of confusion to my whole accounting process.Â The good news is that these pieces are created in sizes that can be matted inexpensively, and fit easily into standard-size frames Â found readily at local frame shops and even craft stores.
3. Donations: I started these auctions out with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity. However, since these auctions are an ongoing 6 month project,Â I really do have to consider theÂ processing costs. Paypal, my online money transfer agent, assesses processing fees, reducing the total amount that I collect. If I can designate 95% of the proceeds to the charity, this willÂ defray my costs for processing and any listing fees (for eBay listings and/or extra features).
More thoughts on eBay: I've been reading more on the eBay/Missionfish deal and can see that there might be some benefits to listing there. I've learned that in addition to your auction being listed on eBay's site and in the GivingWorks category, it is also listed on Missionfish. There are claims of betterÂ visibility and higher returns for GivingWorks listings over regular listings. Without having listed there I don't know how accurate that is.
The main hesitation I've been having are the Missionfish fees. At first blush, 15-20% of the donation seems like a painfully large processing fee. Will it really save that much time over ArtByUs in the processes of listing, fulfillment, documentation and donation? Will the venues provided through eBay GivingWorks increase the number of bids? If those two things were true, it might very well be worth a try.