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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The tricks are on me! » » Free Charity Work-Dont Do It (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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AndyLuka
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Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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A lot of people ask about doing charity work, and should they or should they not do it for free, or a discount. When charities call and ask for your services, and if you would donate them for their cause they often give you a line that says, “We can give you a receipt and you can write it off on your taxes”
They are wrong. Don’t be fooled by this common mistake. According to the IRS Publication 526 you may not deduct the value of your time or services. it’s on page 6 here http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p526.pdf

The idea of accepting a fee and then making a contribution to the charity is also a bad idea, unless you don’t mind paying the income tax on the revenue you are not actually receiving. This link will explain the math http://taxes.about.com/b/2009/05/01/can-......rity.htm

Yes I am an entertainer; I understand the desire for entertainment at charity events. However, as much of a magician I may be, I am also a businessman. Electric Companies, Phone Companies, and stores like office depot and Wal-Mart do not give discounts simply because they are a charity. Why should we as entertainers?

someone may argue that "if I do the event, I may book more shows, its self promotion" sure that may be true, but when word gets out that you do free charity work, then charity gigs will be blowing up your phone non-stop. A free charity event will only bring you more charity events who want that awesome show for the incredible price of $0.00.
If you are looking for self promotion, I suggest you do the show for a fee, take that money for the fee, and apply it to promoting yourself. Gig Masters, Phonebook Adds, Radio Adds, Facebook’s paid advertising. There is a company in my area that provides disposable placemats at restaurants all over South Eastern Wisconsin. These placemats have advertising on them, they are on the table while people wait for food, and you can advertise on restaurants delivery menus . Perfect thing to put your hard earned cash into. You will get more gigs out of something like that, than you would from one charity event.

The obvious exception is if the charity is something you are strongly passionate about, and then by all means do the gig for free. (For me, the make a wish foundation would get a free show any day any time) If the charity is for something you are not die hard passionate about, don’t do it for free.
Making Magic and Fantasy a reality in a world where our reality can sometimes be rather cruel



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SheldonR
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What do you think about reducing the fee for the charity? That way you still get income but are helping to contribute as well.

Make A Wish is a fantastic charity.
edshern
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Your tax comments are good advice and good to know, but,
Volunteering is not about the money!
It's about giving freely of your time, to help others.
So, I guess the question about performing for charities is,
why are you doing the show? Is it your way to volunteer or a job.
it's absolutely OK to charge a charity for a show, but If you charge a charity,
then it's not charity and it's not volunteer work.

Some, not all:
Lawyers do 'pro bono' (free/volunteer)
Doctors donate their time to the needy
CPA's help with low income taxes/financial planning.

Magicians are certainly just as professional.
Perform for the charities you support.
Just as important, it's OK to say no to others.

So, the real question is, do you volunteer your time anyway?
If so, why not volunteer what you are good at.
maxnew40
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Many businesses donate goods or services to charities. I know where you are coming from but your analogy doesn’t work real well.

-Max
Ed_Millis
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For tax and accounting purposes, there are differences between:
-- donating material goods,
-- donating salary and other expenses for your employees to help,
-- and donating your own time and service as a self-employed sole ownership.

And if you're a doctor or a lawyer and your bank balance and tax account can handle it the financial hit, donate away!!

Or, if there is something that grabs your heart to the point that money doesn't count, then give as big a donation as you desire.

Ed
AndyLuka
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Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Quote:
On 2012-10-22 10:42, SheldonR wrote:
What do you think about reducing the fee for the charity? That way you still get income but are helping to contribute as well.

Make A Wish is a fantastic charity.


Like I said before, if I walk into Wal-Mart and buy a ream of paper, I don’t get a discount because it’s for a non-profit or charity event. I have to pay full price like everyone else.

I suppose that is up to you, What happens when you book a charity you feel so-so about for a dirt cheap price, only because you happened to be free that day, and all of a sudden a nice corporate gig wants you at the same time, and they have deep pockets?

In my eyes you are a schmuck if you cancel the charity event for the corporate show because it pays more. However there are certain charities that I will do for free, no matter how much another gig is willing to pay me. Those charities are my exception.
Making Magic and Fantasy a reality in a world where our reality can sometimes be rather cruel



Http://www.lukamagic.com -That's Me



Http://www.bigguysmagic.com -The Best Magic Shop
Magic Rik
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Quote:
Like I said before, if I walk into Wal-Mart and buy a ream of paper, I don’t get a discount because it’s for a non-profit or charity event. I have to pay full price like everyone else.


I don't know - did you ever ask for a discount because it was for a charity. Our church was filling a semi-truck sized container for shipping to an impoverished nation. My wife and I decided how much we wanted to spend on some clothing for the container. We went into a local large chain store and talked to the manager.

We got twice as many clothes for our dollar than had we not asked.

Like the other guy said - just pick who you wish to give your free time to.

Rik
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slyrich
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Lots of charity events get donated equipment, expertise, services by companies. It's good publicity for them, and heck, maybe it's, well, nice. I do free shows regularly at my local children's ward and I love it. It's like everything, if you're happy doing it for free, do it. If not, don't. Although definitely not the reason for doing it, I have also received. Many bookings from people connected with my free shows, it makes good business sense to give up your time for free, now and again.
Russo
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I met my Wife of 56 years - by doing a - donated Show at a Hospital Ward she was in as a teen- wrote her and visited her for several months - (she was cute -still is) - courted for 3 years - married for 56++++ years - what a BLESSING- You Never Know -- I will say, BE CAREFUL _ have been burned many times by doing a Chariety Show when they paid others (later I found out) because they were members or Family of the Orgination- .REAL Chariety OK - just be careful- - A Friend was asked to dinner - after dinner ,was aksed to perform- He did then sent them a BILL - asked why - he said if he and Wife was asked - to dinner (only he was asked) - it could have been just for fun - Ralph(russo)Rousseau
MeetMagicMike
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I tend to agree with the original poster. I sometimes say yes to charity work but I usually think "if they can phone me and ask me to do a free show...why can't they call a lawyer or doctor in town and ask them to sponsor a magician at the event?

I've tried suggesting this and the person I'm dealing with never sounds like they understand what I'm talking about. They have no clue that asking me to perform for free is the same as asking me to donate X dollars.

The other problem is that many events that present themselves at charities aren't. If you wanted to be very strict about giving a discount ONLY to charites what would you ask the orginization for to prove they qualify? I've heard of a charitable tax number. Is that something you could ask for and then look into?

By the way. I'm not heartless. I just think it would make more sense for me to donate my time and money to my charities in OTHER ways and to simply provied a small standard discount to charitable orginzations that qualify.
Magic Mike

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Royce W.
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I've done charity work in the past, for charities that I feel strongly about. And picked up regular shows from it.
SheldonR
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That's good to hear Royce. Well, I guess that's another reason why we shouldn't easily reject charity shows for those who need regardless whether it's for free or not of it'll expose us to more clients. Right?
Ed_Millis
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I personally have NEVER been contacted through any free show I have done.

Ed
Royce W.
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I definitely don't want to give the impression that I'm making contacts and getting a paying show out of every charity event I do. But as an example, I had a free night during Halloween weekend and donated some time to one of the major fundraisers in our community, for Christmas to help underprivileged children. This is something I believe in and expected nothing from it. A week later the organization that the fundraiser was for, contacted me and asked if I could do a 45 min. show for the children on the day of their Christmas event. I jumped at this opportunity, although I'm not receiving any pay, most of the city officials and many major business owners in our community will be at this event, along with the newspapers and radio stations. Great publicity! I look forward to handing out business cards and making many contacts that can lead to paying shows. And just between us, because this is a charity event that I believe in, I would be glad to do it without the publicity or getting a single show out of it.
My suggestion is to do charities because you believe in them and feel strongly about them. Never for publicity or financial gain… Although it doesn't hurt when it comes your way. LOL
ManfredJack
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There's a simple solution. Tell the event coordinator you'd love to help the cause if you're available. Which means, you can plan on doing the event for free, but if another gig comes a few days prior, you must give that paying client priority. However, offer the charity a discounted rate that will secure the booking. Either way, you're putting yourself in front of wealthy and influential people who attend these events. It's a great place to start in my experience.
magicbrady
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I don't, typically, do free work for those that approach. That said, I feel that nothing is more rewarding than doing some strategic charity work. Pick something you feel strongly about and spend some time there. There is more to magic than earning money. I use this time to try out some new material, etc.
Magic Rik
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Just did magic for free today at a senior's center where we live. My wife goes once a week and sings to them for an hour. Once each month I join her and do magic for part of that time.

I get to hear Linda sing. I get to see the smiles when my "rabbit-in-the-hat puppet" waves at them, and some want to pet the spring skunk.

No pay, but the smiles are priceless.
Magic Rik


Life itself is magic - I just want to help a bit!


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plink
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Charity is something you WANT to give. We are often blessed so that we may pass it along. Like Andy said in his initial post there is often a charity for which we have a deep passion. Grow through giving. On the down side I had a magic friend pass on a word of advice. Ask what at the event IS being paid for. If your performance is the only freebie at the event maybe you could ask why and learn a few things.
Adam Fraise
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This discussion confuses 2 issues

1. Performing free for charities can get you more work - this is generally untrue. There is the valid point that working for free merely gets you a reputation for being someone who works for free.

2. Giving time/skill/money to charity is a good thing to do. It is, of course, your choice but a choice many people make.

If you do free gigs for reason 1, you are deluding yourself. If you do it for reason 2, good on you.
jcrabtree2007
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I'm a part-time magician who is a Registered Nurse full time.
I volunteer my time to many church events (non magic), scouts, community functions doing whatever is am able.
I enjoy donating time doing free magic shows for senior centers, special needs kids, and other events where a limited budget would preclude them from having such entertainment. It is one of the ways I like to give back to the community. Especially senior centers- often those people are so lonely. My price to them is that they advertise to the families of the seniors re: free magic show- brings grandkids to the senior homes (at least that's the hope). sometimes it is just nice to do something for someone without expecting anything in return.
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