How to Donate Your Earthly Goods

The ARC has become one of the greatest collections of popular music largely through the generosity of collectors, fans, friends and music lovers who trust us to care for the music they have spent a lifetime collecting. Growth also comes from the regular donation of releases from all segments of the entertainment industry; record companies, distributors, publishers, aggregators, manufacturers, record stores, radio stations, producers and artists. We also do trades and receive materials from a variety of other libraries and archives. We do not have an acquisitions budget.

Named and endowed Special Collections, like the Keith Richards’ Blues Collection, can also be created by individuals and corporations — usually through the donation of a large focused group of recordings and a monetary commitment to grow and sustain the material.

ARC is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational corporation, authorized by the Regents of the University of the State of New York. Our EIN/Federal ID# is 13-3347764.

Below are a few reasons as to why you may wish to make a tax-deductible donation of materials, our acquisition policy, some info on determining the value of donated property, how to count and characterize your recordings and the procedure for making a donation.

Why You Should Donate

Donating materials has many advantages over selling them.

  • creates a feeling of goodwill
  • helps to preserve our cultural heritage
  • contributes to the building of an institution
  • beloved collections given respect and proper care
  • allows collections assembled over many years to remain together
  • eliminates storage costs
  • you can visit anytime
  • more often than not the donated value is greater, at fair market value, than can ever be realized from selling to a dealer or store
  • lowers tax liability

Acquisition Policy

  • The ARChive of Contemporary Music (ARC) collects and preserves recorded popular music and music related materials from around the world produced since 1950.
  • This includes all formats — vinyl LPs, seven + twelve-inch singles, ten-inch LPs + singles, CDs, 8-tracks, paper + plastic discs, picture discs and one-of-a kind or rare cassettes. Call us if you have a substantial seventy-eight collection.
  • We also seek any and all music related materials including memorabilia, paper ephemera, posters, personal papers, press kits, industry catalogs, photographs, handbills, stickers, sheetmusic, songbooks, books, badges, videos, DVDs and audio equipment.
  • All forms and genres of popular music are collected, including: pop, rock, blues, jazz, country, experimental, etc… The nearly 2000 genres we collect and classify are posted here.
  • ARC accepts donations of all materials that fall within the above guidelines, freely given and without conditions.
  • ARC does not collect Classical era Western Art Music LPs (i.e., “Classical Music” created from, roughly 1770 – 1870).  We do preserve classical recordings by shipping them to our partners in San Francisco, The Internet Archive.  You can also donate to them directly.
  • We are very interested in collecting and preserving Modern Classical and Avant Garde/experimental recording and any homemade or recordings made by visual artists.
  • Charted and very popular commercial releases of pop and rock recordings of the 70s and 80s are complete here at the ARC, such as Manilow, Streisand, Talking Heads, Queen, Wings, etc.. We can only accept them AFTER we have seen a written or electronic list of items to be donated. This list should include the artist, title, record company name, a record company manufacturing or catalog number, format (LP, CD), year and condition. Exceptions are ‘odd’ recordings, foreign releases or rarities by ANY artist. Forty-fives by any artist are also welcome.
  • We are MOST interested in focused, specialty or dedicated collections of materials in all formats, any genre or artist — jazz, blues, techno, bluegrass, truck driving LPs, R&B 45s, hardcore, surf, Japanese punk, early Sun singles, bootlegs, foreign releases, picture discs, white label copies, and signed recordings.
  • If the donor feels the need to impose conditions as the basis for a gift of materials, ARC will do it’s best to accommodate the wishes of the donor, in writing, prior to the acceptance of the materials.
  • We will love you even more if you can drop things off here on White St. Pickups of large collections can be arranged.
  • We are NOT a dumpster. If material is misrepresented we reserve the right to reject a collection and dispose of any way we deem appropriate. Please make sure the count and characterization of what you want to donate is as accurate as possible.
  • Once accepted by ARC, materials become the sole property of ARC and shall be recorded as an unrestricted gift and are not returnable.
  • ARC reserves the right to manage this property as it wishes.
  • Gifts of materials to ARC are deductible from taxable income in accordance with the provisions of Federal Income Tax Laws.
  • ARC is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational corporation, authorized by the Regents of the University of the State of New York. Our EIN/Federal ID# is 13-3347764.
  • ARC will provide the donor a standard “Deed of Gift” (“Acknowledgment Of Gift — Record of Accession”) as required by the Board of Regents of the State of New York, containing a list and quantities of all materials donated.
  • It is the responsibility of the donor to establish the value of the gift.

Determining the Value of Your Donation

  • If you are seeking a tax deduction for making a donation of materials to ARC, you need to determine the “Fair Market Value” (FMV) of the gift.
  • It is the responsibility of the donor to establish the value of any gift.
  • Not-for-profit entities are forbidden by law to place a value on materials that are being offered for donation.
  • There are many ways to determine the “Fair Market Value” (FMV) of a gift.
  • Consult IRS publication 561, “Determining the Value of Donated Property.” Also look at publication 526, “Charitable Contributions.” Available from the IRS. Contact the IRS online for more info or to download these forms.
  • Consult a reputable print reference publication. Two that we use at ARC are the price guides published by Goldmine Magazine and Jerry Osbourn. Good online sources for asking prices is Gemm or Discogs. To find out what recordings actually sold for try Collectors Frenzy or Popsike. While we can not place a value on your collection, a quick look in these sources reveal that a great many recordings, in good condition, have a donated value above $10 — far more than a buyer will offer.
  • Retain the services of a professional appraiser. According to the IRS any donation exceeding a FMV of $5,000.00 requires a professional appraisal.
  • We can help. Contact ARC and we will help you find a reputable appraiser. We have used and trusted Scott Neuman (East coast) and Stephen Braitman (West coast).  Professional organizations include the American Society of Appraisers, and The Appraisers Association of America.  Make sure the appraiser specializes in sound recordings.
  • Be aware — dealers will sometime present themselves as appraisers and try to buy the material you were considering donating, usually just the most valuable recordings. This is unethical and makes us very, very sad.

Characterizing Your Donation

  • Let us know what you have – style or genre or era. Are they LPs, CDs. 45s, 78s, 8-tracks, cassettes, books, magazines, posters, songbooks, audio equipment? The more we know the better.
  • How many recordings do you have? A standard book box is 17.5″ x 12.5″ x 12.5″ and holds about 120 LPs. 17.5″ is also a cubit – a unit of measure used by Noah (and Bill Cosby) to fill that other ARK. A cubit is the distance from the tip of your finger to your elbow, a great way to measure the number of recordings on a shelf. PLEASE try to give an accurate estimate.
  • Give us a rough idea of the condition – in the basement for 40 years, kinda got wet in Hurricane Sandy, no covers, we have 4 kids and they love crayons, etc… We’ll take just about anything if you drop it off, but pickups are expensive, so condition is important.
  • We love lists and obsessives who have electronically catalogued their recordings. Paper lists are nice also, but not as useful. Sending a list along before you donate is heaven.

How to Donate

Pretty simple really. Read this and contact the ARC and let us know what you have. We love it when you can drop things off, but let’s talk about a pickup if you are in New York. Shipping from outside the city possible — again, depends on the material.