A writer-friend posed a question:
“…under what circumstance do you think it might be ok to submit one of your previously unpublished stories or piece of art to an open call where there would be no payment? In essence submission would mean you are giving away first world rights to publish and use said piece…”
Though everyone is saying charity only, the stories/art are yours; do as you like. But do so knowing that the chances of any value being actualized from being published by a non-payment market are extremely infinitesimal. So, you will be giving those rights that you spent time creating to someone who does not value 1. your time and/or 2. the rights they are asking for.
— For a cause — If you are fired up about something and believe your story will make a difference, it’s your art. It could be a weapon or raise awareness for a cause that you believe in. Extreme caution: someone could use this to take advantage of your conviction to the cause.
— For a charity — Make sure it’s a legit charity and write it off at pro rates. Btw, this could be abused, too. There have been anthologies where the proceeds go to a charity, but only for a fixed time frame with no mention of beyond that time. And if it’s not a legit charity, see for a cause.
— In exchange — Write the terms up in a contract where rights (valued at X) are being exchanged for widgets/services (valued at X). You may not gain currency, but you are compensated for your time and have paperwork to substantiate the value of your work.
In summation, besides the above, if you have tried to place the story at all the markets that meet or exceed your minimum scale and have gotten rejections from everywhere; you are better off holding on to that story for future calls that pay OR for release in a collection of your own work. So, while there are circumstance, submitting to non-paying markets devalues your work and hurts the profession. True non-paying markets are for the uniformed and casual hobbyist who get a kick from receiving a byline (while on this particular soapbox, I usually tack on ‘and you are no longer uninformed’ but I’m sure you were quite well informed to start with 😉 ).