Face Painting For Charity

by Ambah · 41 comments

Hello Face Painting Friends,

Often I am asked to paint for fundraising events and/or volunteer for a good cause.

I find this to be an interesting dilemma and thought I would post my thoughts on this topic, and I look forward to hearing your ideas and thoughts too, as I know many of you have come up with great ideas already. CLICK HERE TO LEAVE A COMMENT

There are so many wonderful causes out there, and I find it a pleasure to support these through what I love to do – face painting.

I have several levels of volunteering or sponsership that I offer, and I find I need to strike a happy balance as it is not economical for me to dedicate too many of my weekends toward volunteering when I need to keep these days clear for my customers too. (Read on Below…)

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Benefits: In addition to feeling good about supporting a cause, face painting at these events can be a great way to promote yourself. This is particularly good if you are starting out and your business is a bit  quiet to begin with, by painting at as many events as possible you can hand out cards and begins to establish yourself. I usually volunteer  to support my  favourite causes.

At the start of each year I decide which organisations I would like to support and  how. Generally I have some that I support each year. I lock in those dates and keep myself available for them. These dates I usually paint at for no cost to the organisation, sometimes they may charge the public and keep the proceeds for thier fundraising. Throughout the year I am asked to contribute to other events and I may or may not be able depending on my other commitments and interest in the particular organisation. I find I feel less guilty about saying no, when I can tell them that I have already allocated my annual volunteer hours for the year and am unable to fit them in too.

Charging: Some face painters have a special fundraiser/charity rate. They offer a discount to organisations that have less funding. This could be any discount you like eg: 10, 20 or even 50% off your normal rate.

If you are happy to volunteer your time but would like to cover your expenses, you can offer a rate for that too; to do this you will need to work out what it actually costs you per hour to face paint. Looking at all of your costs over a year and dividing them by the number of hours worked will help you to work this out – the real costs can add up when you are including materials, travel, insurence, training ect.

Sponsorship: there are two aspects to this: if you are volunteering or offering a reduced rate, you are in effect sponsoring the event. In return you can request some reciprocal benefits such as a website link on their site, your name on promotional material or anything else that seems approriate to the organisation and event.

The other aspect of sponsorship is that you are sponsered by a business to face paint at the charity event. This has happened for me a number of times, I usually invoice the buisness directly, so they get to claim it as an expense and the charity is sure to promote the business as a sponser of their event.

I look forward to hearing about your Charity face painting.

You can also visit Ambah’s youtube channel here.

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“like ”  Ambah’s face & body art facebook page here for latest news updates.

Visit Ambah’s website here to find out  more about her workshops and tutorials and latest news.

Ambah travels throughout Australia and Internationally to teach. Please contact Ambah if you are interested in workshops in your area ambah@ambah.com.au

Happy Painting!  Ambah xx

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

June Riccio Tue at 1:39 pm

If I have the time i always do charity for free. I feel its the least I can do to help a child.


susan Tue at 2:16 pm

I usually charge the public say 2 euros each paint and give the charity that invited me 15 euros or 15% which ever is the greater


Bobbi Tue at 2:47 pm

Thank you for this article- This is the time of year when everyone starts calling asking for donated time and its hard to figure out what to do. I appreciate your input into this topic and as you called it a dilemma!
I usually do a variety of different things for charities depending on their situation: charge 50% of my rate and paint for free not charging the public anything (but have a donation jar for that charity if anyone wants to donate); or I charge per face and give the donations minus my reduced fee to the charity or I charge per face and 100% of the money collected goes to the charity. Of Course I do paint for free for charities that are special to my heart and community.
Thank you for telling me how to figure out what my actual cost per hour is. I knew there has to be a way to do it properly, but no one ever mentioned how!
I have a question about sponsorship…. If you are sponsored by a company for a charity event, is that company who you would request advertising from? or the Charity?


john sicherman Fri at 11:39 am

Panera bread in Kettering Ohio is putting on a breast cancer awareness event this up coming Thursday October 17th from 8-2. We are offering no cost mammogram screenings, also having a pink fire truck, pink ambulance, and a specialty police corvette come out. It would be really amazing to have stuff there for the moms children while they walk around and get educated on breast cancer. Who can I reach in the Dayton area for an event like this. Thoughts?


Angela Thu at 6:24 pm

The next time you need a face painter like the one you had at Panera Bread, please feel free to contact me at 513-379-7999. Im in Cincinnati. Yu can check me out on Facebook at Face Painting by Devann’s Way.


Lori Tue at 3:00 pm

I probably differ than most on this subject, because I’ve been asked to “donate” for over 20 years. I have causes that I support, and I am a tithe payer, so I believe that giving is important. The problem is that, in general, the people asking us to give do not value what we do. They are not asking dentists to come and give free fillings. They aren’t asking lawyers to provide free litigation.
These causes & fundraisers are spending money on their food, decorations, venues and even entertainment… Then they say “how about we get a face painter… We don’t need much.” I have watched other entertainers be paid quite well, while the face painter was treated like another nameless volunteer.

The last time I did a free event (in exchange for “exposure”), what I learned is that free events beget more free events. I was approached by several people who wanted me to come to their benefits!!

And… their events are generally during “prime time”, which means you are putting their good cause above your own (feeding yourself and your family, if you have one). That said, I have learned from other great artists over the years that you should charge (even if you later give the money back to the event), or (and this came from Lilly Walters from FABAIC last week) that you can give them a price break but then THEY have to agree to charge the patrons, so that this art form is always being paid for by SOMEONE!

My favorite idea is Ambah’s suggestion of corporate sponsorship. The business looks good, you look good, and the event benefit’s from your expertise.


Alexandra Tue at 3:09 pm

I am on the other end of this discussion. I am involved in one of those charitable events and we have a crew of volunteer, non professional facepainters who donate their time for our cause. We usually have about 30 children / teens waiting for our services. Though one gets tired it is so rewarding to see the little faces beaming at your results – even if you are not pleased. I have redone many a painting because I didn’t like it. thank you for the tutorials. I have learned a lot and hope to learn more. Thank YOU for the support you offer to us.


Meriel Tue at 3:21 pm

Thanks, this is an extremely helpful blog!


Simon archer Tue at 3:30 pm

I am just starting out but would like to further my career in this how much would you charge per face and when you do a charity how much would you charge then and how do I go about setting my own buisness


Sharon Danley Tue at 3:31 pm

Many thanks for this article and resultant comments. Some good ideas.

I am in a different position a retired master makeup & hair artist from film and TV. I decided to explore the world of facepainting to “keep my chops up” as it were because I just love what I do and I find the facepainting brings smiles to everyone’s face.

I decided to volunteer for Easter Seals, About Face and Sick Kids because of the nature of of their work. But – I do request all expenses be covered, which includes about $10 toward replacement of product. And they can use this service any way they wish – from fund raising to promotions to special events.

I make sure I have proper breaks and that set up and wrap out is handled by them. This way I get to enjoy the actual craft and someone else takes care of the administration.

When I volunteered my services to a comedy show last Christmas, I invoiced them the full amount and said this was to be treated as a contribution. This way they saw in black and white the full monetary value of my service which keeps my contribution valuable. I will also do this for the charities, so they don’t become complacent about my contribution as is human nature.

This way you too remember your value more and tend to interact with more self confidence.

Thanks again,
Sharon Danley


ksenia Sun at 2:58 am

Thank you so much !!!


CJ Tue at 4:09 pm

I have been painting for more than 25 yrs. I love every minute of it.I agree with the above note from Sharon. I also pick & choose my charity’s, I can’t do them all.I never thought of expecting my painting expenses, good idea so we can continue to help other groups.I’m so happy to hear you will be handling other good products out there, I have used most of them for years.CJN


Trudy Murphy Tue at 4:22 pm

I find it most rewarding to donate my time to fund raisers where there is one person benefitting from my efforts rather than a large organization. For example, when a local child needs surgery, medical or dental treatment that is not covered by the family’s medical insurance. I’m also partial to local veterinary hospitals that sponsor pet adoption days to keep the animals from being euthanized. By donating my time to smaller local groups I can better see the results of having helped someone else out and also feel more confident that the pay I lost for that day truly went to a worthy cause. Before committing to these types of events I ask questions of the event organizer to try to ascertain in advance that the event is being well run. I have been to a number of events where I lost a day of pay to volunteer and then very few children showed up because the event was not well organized. I make sure that the client provides a tent and table. I don’t ask for reimbursement for the expenses I incur on supplies but I do feel I should not have to lug along heavy items such as a table and tent if if I am working for free.


Kathy Rollwage Tue at 4:39 pm

Lots of wonderful ideas found in all the comments! I’ve always felt that my talent was a gift from God and so I definitely discount churches. I will often hear “great work…I will call you”….but that quite honestly, has never happened. So, I do try to choose wisely which events I’ll loan my talent to, but generally I will gladly paint for a good cause, if I don’t have a scheduling issue.

I like the idea of invoicing the donated time so that the value is in black and white! I’ll have to remember that one!


Monica Forde Tue at 5:33 pm

I love the idea of invoicing the donated time to the charity! Massive advice…I am constantly being asked to donate my services for charity, however I simply say I have a ‘charitable rate’ which is my commercial rate, discounted. In addition, I try to define my terms in advance, in terms of cross promotion and advertising. Sometimes this is successful, sometimes not so, Even in the case of the two local charities I donate my time to, as stated above, I simply can’t do them all free of charge!


Wendy Feldmann Tue at 6:14 pm

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this conversation! I often travel a couple hours to get to the events where I charge, and while there, get approached by a few charity promoters. This has given me much better insight on how to give them a more intelligent answer, and how to share with them the value of my time and services. I really like the idea of finding a business to sponsor me to events: win-win!


Facial Artistry Tue at 7:18 pm

LOTS of good ideas and good points. I offer two different types of services to fund raising events.

1) I come for free, charge $5.00/face to those I am painting and give $2.00/face to the organization. In some cases if I have to travel a long distance, I let the event coordinator know that I will make a donation to the cause IF I have painted over 40 faces. This encourages them to promote me and sell my services.

2) The organization pays my full per hour fee and I set out a tip jar for donations to the organization.

In both cases I promote the event on on my facebook and ask them to promote me as well.

When an event discovers how much I charge vs. what others charge they are extremely happy to book me at my full rate. Even though I am one of the very few face painters in my area, I keep my prices extremely competitive. It’s just another way I can give to my community.

God has blessed my business beyond belief and I honor him by giving back when I can.


Lori Tue at 7:29 pm

Hi Ambah,

I love your work! Do you ever come to the USA to do workshops?


Ambah Wed at 12:04 am

It is wonderful to hear all of your comments, I can see this is a topic that effects all of us. It is important for us to find a happy place where we are able to contribute to our favourite causes without feeling exploited – which I have certainly felt at times. Invoicing the amount you would normally charge is a great idea, you could also invoice your full rate and show the discount you are willing to offer to reduce it to your Charity rate or cost of expenses rate, so they can appreciate the discount you are actually giving.
In some countries this may be considered a Tax deductable donation. (something to ask you accountant)
Lori’s points are all excellent, it is great to hear it from your point of view Lori. I think it is important to decide what you are able to afford to give to your community and stick to it, as Lori mentions these events are usually when your other paid jobs are so you are not only donating your services but possibly losing your other income for the day too.
It is important to feel OK about saying no to the requests beyond what you are able to donate to.
Another charging option too is to charge your normal rate for the minimum number of hours you would like to be paid for eg: 4 hours and then donate some extra time on top of that as a contribution.
If I am being sponsored to paint at an event I am getting paid my full rate so I don’t expect additional promotion beyond what I would normally recieve for an event.

I look forward to hearing more wonderful tips from every one.
Ambah xx


Ambah Wed at 1:35 am

Hi Lori, thanks, I hope to make it back to the USA to teach again.

Another point I have just remembered too:
I have discovered that some well known causes require only a 10% donation of the profits of the event be donated to them in return for calling the event a fundraiser for the particular cause – Breast Cancer is one of these. I have painted for free at some of these events without realising that only a small amount of the money raised actually goes to the cause, meanwhile the organisers and many other people involved get paid sometimes quite well for organising the event. It is something to keep in mind and it can be worth asking the organisation how the charity will benefit from the event.
Obviously there are plenty of events where you are directly benefitting the organisation and the people you paint.
I just think it can be helpful to understand how the event is being run.
Ambah xx


terry Wed at 3:54 am

what is invoice the business. i have aproched a business about volunteering my time, i have not been out much, but i figured this was the way to start and its a good cause


Ambah Wed at 4:38 am

Hello Terry,
an invoice is the bill or account your present the buisness with for payment of your services.

All the best


Lisa Sullivan Wed at 4:59 am

The last time I was asked to volunteer to support a charitable cause, I put out a tip jar and advertised that 1/2 of all tips would be donated to the cause. I collected more than enough to cover my expenses and still make a monetary donation beyond the gift of service. Like many of the people who have posted, I also am selective about which causes to support, otherwise I could easily be booked with “volunteering”.


Kris in Alaska Wed at 9:34 am

Wonderful ideas everyone! This is a subject I hadn’t even thought of yet so I love hearing all the advice for when it does come up for me! Thanks for so freely sharing! Please do more questions and answers like this!


Laura in CT Wed at 8:48 pm

Great topic Ambah!
I love volunteering, so donating time to charities/non-profits is a part of my offering. I have a standard fee for this type of work, which I call a supply fee and the organization must be a 501 (c)(3) and provide a Tax ID #. I have a limit of 2 hours and usually only do stencils and small face/body art.


Amanda Wed at 3:56 am

As always I get something out of just about all the comments, but I like the tax information request in yours, Laura.


Karen Aka Rainbows Of Promise Wed at 11:34 pm

Hi Ambah and everyone. I started face painting for tips to get my kids to summer camp in 1998. Since then I have had the opportunity to paint at several events as a “volunteer”. Some of these events I considered ministry such as block parties for churches, anniversary of a feeding program, Halelujah nights, etc. When I started out I would simply paint for tips and donate what was received to the ministry event without taking anything to replace paints and glitters. Over time I came to realize that if I didn’t charge at least $50 to replace my supplies that I would have painted myself into extinction. I prefer getting sponsored by the hosting business since this gives me free advertising, both in exposure and in their publicity campaigns. It also gives me the opportunity to interact with my community family and generates paid leads for paid events. I try to keep my rates very competitive and usually charge a set rate ( between $50-$100 for intown and $225-$250 for out of town) When the event is a charity I book for the entire event for maximum exposure time and lead generation opportunity. I usually do not charge an hourly rate and have found that although taking ez-ups and tables to the event sometimes is a hassle, doing so has kept myself and the event in a professional presentation and has also kept the people being painted from some undo hardships when the weather is hot and there otherwise would not have been shade. If the event is out of town and I have been asked to “volunteer” my services I always figure out the distance to and from the event and the cost per gallon of gasoline to get to the event. This is added to the amount I would need to replace glitters/paints to get my reduced amount for the event. If I am sponsored at this reduced amount I will sometimes put out a container for tips that I donate to the event also. Since I also am a Tither I have found that giving of my time, talent and resources to ministry has in the long run given me more paid business than I can at times handle. Maybe the same will be true for you. God Bless all of you.


melsfacepainting Thu at 3:03 am

i do face painting 4 GIVE ME 5 FOR KIDS IN DUBBO.I charge the customers n give them a % of what i take.


Tay-C Thu at 3:08 am

In the beginning of my face painting career, ( 3 years ago) I relied on charitable causes, they didn’t seem to mind that I was slow and that I wasn’t that good, I was able to pass out my business cards and put out a tip jar to help with my costs, It is they who helped make me become a successful face painter, I try to paint for charity whenever they call, I love what I do and I am very thankful, especially in todays economy.


Maria Hunt Mon at 7:11 am

Hello, I’ve been face painting now, on a serious level for about 2 years, or I should say, for pay, I haven’t been asked to do charity as of yet, however I think when the time comes, I will be prepaired and well armed with knowledge and great ideas from everyone, thank you for all your opionions.

Maria Hunt


Kripsie Fri at 10:12 pm

Great thread!
Anyhoo, I may be able to answer a few of the questions that have sprung up… If (like myself) you are a registered business owner, charitable donations are 100% write offable in Canada. This includes monetary, product and time donations. My business (facepainting is only part of what I do) is registered under artist/craftsperson type and I have asked my accountant about this. Under this tax category, we are entitled to excellent deductions offset by your recorded income. So, if you charge say $75/ hour as your normal rate, it works out really well for everyone if you invoice your full time/ hour, and have the event coordinator sign that you have billed them 0.00$, but that your time is worth X$. At tax time, your business is able to write off the X$ that you have ‘donated’ to your charity, as long as this charity is federally registered. A charity that Does not qualify for federal registration MAY not be legit. At the very least, unregistered charities do not have a third party monitoring donations….. As an artist/facepainter, I offer this advice: DO NOT UNDERVALUE YOURSELF! Artisans are notoriously low-income earners, most often qualifying below the poverty line at income tax time.(starving artists?) So, why are we the first and most often asked for donations of time and artwork? Im a big supporter of charity work, but I have kids to feed, babysitters to pay, vehicle to maintain, etc. Corporate sponsorship and advertising perks do work well for facepainters. If your chosen charity is legitimate and well organized, they will value their volunteers, as this is the easiest way to be financially responsible to their organization. If you still love volunteering for an organization that is less than accomidating, it may be worth your time to find the corporate sponsor yourself!


kathyhep Sat at 5:46 pm

this is so helpful, thank u everyone for all your info, I agree, when u start out, that to volunteer at busy charity events will help u to get faster. I can try out new designs if the line allows :) at a free gig. it really helps me, at home i only have boys to paint on. (my daughter will not let me paint on her lol) so to do a new girly one i have 2 do it at a volunteered gig. I love the invoice idea giving value is awesome!


Melody Fri at 2:47 am

I have been face painting professionally for 2 decades and do not do ‘free’ face painting. If people ask me to perform for free, I will offer to help in other ways, but not with my Magic Show, face painting, balloon twisting, etc.

When you volunteer, you are not often treated with the respect due because plenty of untrained students and moms will do face painting for free, often with inferior products and terrible artwork. You get what you pay for and no pay, no respect.

If someone wants me, they, or I, find a sponsor, so I’m still getting paid. I’m always amazed that when asked to perform for free and I say, “No, I do not perform for free as this is my profession.” I tell them, “I get calls almost every week to perform for free, and if I did that it would mean I’m booked for a time slot where I now can take no paid bookings. I could work full time for free, but I don’t know how I’d get there, because I wouldn’t be able to sustain a car, or pay for the gas, or buy more supplies, or keep a roof over my head, or feed my family.”

Remarkably, most of the time, I get a call back to book me and miraculously they have come up with money to pay me. So don’t short change yourself.

This is the same problem that many musicians have. They are often willing to play for free and maybe get a dinner and drink out of it. It hurts the professionals when non-professionals do it for free. In closing, be professional, be insured, do you best, hone your skills and keep face painting as a profession and not a hobby. If you want to volunteer your time, volunteer in other ways, but not with your profession unless you get lots of perks, suck as parking close to where you unload your equipment, help unloading and reloading your car, food, beverage, a sizeable listing on their website with a link to your website and in ALL their advertising, flyers, brochures. Demand to be treated professionally! Remember, free gigs generally get you more free, not paid, gigs.


Amy Mon at 8:07 pm

Amen! It’s hard work, when you paint lots of people’s faces. that needs to be honored and appreciated.


Serena Fri at 12:30 am

I volounteer for the Red Cross and started face painting in Red Cross events. I liked it soo much it gavce me the possibility be to known and to do private events from time to time. I am 41 years old. I live in Italy and there is no job at this moment (I am considered too old- third world is more open minded). We are having a very bad economy and I am struggling to find a job. I am also a mum. I still volounteer every time they call me. It’s a good way to give if you can donate money you surely can donate your time for fund raising. It’s also a very good way to pratice while doing something very good for your community.


Serena Fri at 12:36 am

I would also like to add that I spent part of my savings to buy safe and professional products to increase job and to teach other volounteers how to star doing it. Mine is not a terrible artwork. I won’t bite off more than I can chew. Thanks to those who spread their knowledge for others.


Amy Sat at 11:06 am

I’ve been painting going on three years now. I just went pro about last summer. This is my biggiest delima, I get asked to paint for free, and I’m over it! They can get painters in, but not as good as mine! I practice EVERYDAY. I invest into all the good stuff etc. I’m looking for the right words and approach. Many of the events around me, expect the facepainting for free. I explain that I would like to make a living… but they don’t get it… what are some of your phrases, and ways of saying it, that work for you???


Philadelphia Tivoli Sun at 5:57 pm

Tell them that your paints (professional cosmetic grade body paints) cost money, your brushes and glitter cost money, your petrol costs money, learning your skill cost money and for them to ask you/expect you to supply all of that plus your own time for free is just plain rude. You can always offer to paint for a discounted price so that at least your costs are covered and you may be able to pick up more business by handing out business cards to make it worthwhile.


Susie Sun at 11:48 pm

So when an organised charity event contact the face painter to ask what you charge by the day or hour what are you other guys asking for.? Money wise I mean?

I usually ask the expected footfall and what percentage of children so I can anticipate uptake. But then I think that I am often undercharging as I always seem to work so much harder than I thought I would but then the punters see ‘free Facepainting’ because the venue are paying so you get higher uptake than when you see a charge sign.

The sponsorship idea is fab…thanks for that everyone.

Thank you everyone …these forums help me such a lot.


Karin Fri at 10:06 am


Love working charities, excellent cause and meet some good hearted people. This looks good on your portfolio too. However, still working on a pricing structure I usually work with the charity, i.e., % of per face fee back to the charity and seems excellent advertising. I started structuring my charity contribution, they’re more loyal than some customers repeat business into certain ones. Just a tip.


mbudenske Fri at 4:30 pm

I run a food pantry that I helped start in 1988. I facepaint for fun. But, I am getting better at my craft. I usually work for tips. If I go to a charity event or to a community function, I put out a tip jar. I put on my jar and my signs that the money goes to the food pantry.The event sponsors don’t mind that I am doing my own separate fund raising because I am always the hit of the show with long lines. I recruited three other face painters to help me at an event yesterday and we still had the longest lines of all the vendors. This is a small town and so a lot of people know who I am and throw in $20. or so just because they want to support the foodbank. Low income folks that also know who I am because they come to the food pantry love to show up because their kids get the same facepaint as everyone else. This is fun and satisfying but it won’t pay the bills. I would suggest that face painters and others that work these festivals be careful about what they do for free — especially in a small town. Once you get the reputation for working for free, or reduced fees, it is tough to turn it around and be seen as a true professional.


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