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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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Jescilito
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To volunteer by definition means you don't expect a monetary return from the investment of your time. I don't think volunteering to perform a magic act will crumble the magic economy, nor will it dilute the magic water supply with an inferior effect on the minds of spectators. It's up to the individual if they should wish to volunteer their time regardless of the ins and outs. Who gets paid and who doesn't. Volunteering Isn't about that and there are things that are worth more than money, that money can't buy. I'm not a pro magician by any means but I have donated my time in other areas and works in my life.

Sure I wouldn't just go helping any joe shmoe paint a house for free but does that mean there is a problem with habitat for humanity? If I'm a chef, should I concern myself with someone who volunteers at a soup kitchen?
Wabojeg
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Lots of great thoughts on the topic. I wish we could separate the responses from those that are full-time professionals and those that charge for shows to supplement their day jobs.Someone above suggested, and I agree, that there are different levels of charity request. If they are charging some large fee for admission or a per plate dinner, I think you should leave it to the professionals. If it is a more informal fundraiser, then that is a great opportunity to gain experience. As a CPA who has worked in nonprofit finance for 25 years, I've paid a lot of big bucks out to put on fundraisers, even large amounts for speakers who support the cause.

I think choosing your one or two special projects is great, then offer a discount rate to others. I love the idea of having them send you a formal request letter. Do however make certain they are legit and that they are spending their money wisely. Look at CharityNavigator.org and see what percentage of their revenues go to fundraising and administrative, if this amount starts to exceed 30%, then you might be a schmuck to donate your time to them.
Wabojeg
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Another thought for you full-time professionals out there. Most companies I know have a fixed budget for charitable donations and you might want to do the same. You can set a number of charity shows you can do a year...2, 3, 4, whatever that magic number is for you. Charities that call should understand when you say that, since you depend on this to pay your bills, you have a budgeted number of charity shows you do a year and you have already met that number. Depending on how far out you are booked and if you support the charity, you can offer to put them on next year's calendar. People should understand that you have a fixed budget you have to stick to.
hestonsmagic
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Today I feel compelled to share my story on Charity work.
A 5 minute children’s service message at church.. Sure… Anytime they ask… Heck it is for my church and the kids of the church… Will or has it generated income – YES, multiple birthday parties… SO this charity is one trick that generates income.
However on an annual basis I have put together a lecture for Cub Scout leaders. Every year they have had a month with the theme of Magic. I give my lecture at “Round Table” and the District Round table. My lecture is based on the book “Cub Scout Magic”. I have found it gives enough of an education to the Scout leaders to teach their kids. If not I always make myself available for a reduced price to come in and help teach the kids the 3-4 tricks of the month. I have a passion for the scouting program and what does it do….
Easy Generates income. I can deduct mileage and expenses for the lectures… But better yet. Reduced price lecture time to help kids.. I get 2-3 of these a year, and then at the Pack meetings I am often Requested to do a show. These are all paid events. From there I get requests for other scouting events through the year.
So my 2-3 hours of volunteer time ends up booking me reduced and full price shows through the year… Now at to it, I end up selling Back of Room items at pack meetings and other shows. We now have performances, and retail sales.
I don’t do very many other Charity shows – I never rule them out, but I calculate loss and potential gain for each one.
Knowing your market and sales activity from a free show is critical. If someone else calls and wants a free show – nope but I give my “reduced rate” and for some reason it looks a lot like my normal rate.
blue dragon magic
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When first starting out and trying to get known as an entertainer I have done charity work yes I must be pationate about the cause but I ask for a copy of there newsletter or whatever it is they advertise the function plus whatever they write up about me and my performance. If it is videotaped I ask them for a copy photo a copy with rights to use the copy for my own advertisement and promotion theres other ways to get paid other than money.
blue dragon magic
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Think as how much it would cost you to hire someone to do that for you.
magicshowprod
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I have had several charities and folks in need come to us for a show but they never expect to get the gig for free. As a result, I have been moved to do just that and give the show at no cost. These are special cases like performing for children with life threatening problems. I like to do these shows because they make me feel good to know we just might be able to give a few moments of happiness to kids who's days are usually filled with pain and sadness. It reminds us every day of how lucky we are to have a healthy child. So for situations like these, I am always happy to donate my time and walk away always wishing we could have done more.

My benefit? A different outlook on life. Not taking things for granted. A stronger love for my family. And those things are priceless Smile Now THAT'S real magic!
Don Shock
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zoescout
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Quote:
On Jul 20, 2015, magicshowprod wrote:
I have had several charities and folks in need come to us for a show but they never expect to get the gig for free. As a result, I have been moved to do just that and give the show at no cost. These are special cases like performing for children with life threatening problems. I like to do these shows because they make me feel good to know we just might be able to give a few moments of happiness to kids who's days are usually filled with pain and sadness. It reminds us every day of how lucky we are to have a healthy child. So for situations like these, I am always happy to donate my time and walk away always wishing we could have done more.

My benefit? A different outlook on life. Not taking things for granted. A stronger love for my family. And those things are priceless Smile Now THAT'S real magic!

Well said!!! I think that sums up my thoughts exactly!
rik brooks
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I volunteer for anything to do with St Jude Hospital. That's a children's cancer research hospital that accepts no government funds, only private donations and never, ever let's a child go without the best treatment for lack of money.

... My kid brother died there 50 years ago. We were a poor family but they treated him like royalty and spared no expense on him. He got the very best treatment that they knew how to give.
RiderBacks
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This is fairly simple. If you want to benefit a charity by donating your time, do so. If you don't, don't. And if you're not impoverished, you're a bad person if you aren't donating either some reasonable time or some reasonable amount of money (or both) to charity. That's all there is to the moral question. The OP has some good points about taxes. Keep those in mind. But the thread's title is misleading (and also not consistent with the OP's remarks) and should be disregarded as something like click-bait.
Dr_Bagelman
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If I have expendable materials, and am working for free, which I've done before for my local library doing balloons, usually I request that either the organization pay for materials (like balloons for balloon sculpting), or that customers pay a small amount per sculpture, but the event not pay me for my time.

That way some of the money paid per balloon could go to the charity fund, and I pocket a bit to cover balloons. It worked out pretty well, and everyone got my business card. They come up and ask, "If I wanted you for X event, how much would you charge?"

The same with any kind of charity work. Around my ship, I'm painting free murals for the different divisions, even though it cuts into my sleep time. However, this drums up interest and people want me to design/draw personal artwork for them, which they understand is going to cost something.

People are pretty cool about understanding that this one charity event is separate from your regular job.
"I take people's nightmares and turn them into dream-realities."
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cafeinst
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In my experience, if you do a free show for charity event, the people running the event will not work with you in the same professional manner that they will work with you if you are doing the show for pay. They will essentially say, "Thanks for coming - you are on your own."
funsway
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With my first wife of 38 years I had an agreement to never perform a public magic show. (doesn't matter why, just a commitment)

The mother of a friend remembered my magic from "before" and got him to ask if I would be part of a benefit show.
He was sold on the need for a magic performer.

So, I hired another magician for the gig and wrote the expenses off on my taxes as a donation.

Years later he hired me as a "routining coach" and I paid taxes on the fees received.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
RiderBacks
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Quote:
On Oct 14, 2015, Caféinst wrote: In my experience, if you do a free show for charity event, the people running the event will not work with you in the same professional manner that they will work with you if you are doing the show for pay. They will essentially say, "Thanks for coming - you are on your own."


Who cares? If you want to donate to the charity, you can donate money or your time (or both). There is nothing wrong with donating your money or your time to a charity you want to donate to. And since time is money, you actually win by donating time vs. the monetary equivalent if it benefits you at all. For folks who never donate to charity? Well, I don't hang out with those selfish ***s.
cafeinst
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RiderBacks, I have nothing against donating to charity. But donating one's time as a magician for charity isn't always what it's cracked up to be.
cafeinst
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RiderBacks, I have nothing against donating to charity. But donating one's time as a magician for charity isn't always what it's cracked up to be.
gatorjim
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Obviously, there are a lot of divergent opinions about this topic. Years ago, I started personal volunteer work at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL. on holidays. I went room to room to visit the kids and do close-up magic for them. This eventually turned into an IBM project with my local chapter. There was intention to ever charge for this and yet I got numerous paying jobs as a result of it.

IMO, volunteer work is just that.....it's not about receiving a payment for your magical skills and abilities. I understand where the original poster and others are coming from, but I agree with those who express the opinion that is more than about receiving renumeration.

To each his own.
RiderBacks
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Quote:
On Oct 21, 2015, gatorjim wrote: Obviously, there are a lot of divergent opinions about this topic. Years ago, I started personal volunteer work at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL. on holidays. I went room to room to visit the kids and do close-up magic for them. This eventually turned into an IBM project with my local chapter. There was intention to ever charge for this and yet I got numerous paying jobs as a result of it.

IMO, volunteer work is just that.....it's not about receiving a payment for your magical skills and abilities. I understand where the original poster and others are coming from, but I agree with those who express the opinion that is more than about receiving renumeration.

To each his own.


There isn't any room for reasonable disagreement here. I will make a baseline assumption. You are a person who donates to charities. That's my baseline assumption. If you're not a person who donates to charities, then this post won't apply to selfish you.

Now suppose you donate $X per year to charities. And you donate this $X in cold hard cash. Let's also suppose that you're a good person who is fulfilling or exceeding your moral obligations to donate to charity by donating $X/year. You're so awesome! Thanks for not being a selfish dick! Good, that's settled. Let's also suppose that you're a professional magician whose only source of income is doing magic.

Concrete numbers help people So let's assume you're a professional magician making $50,000/year, this is your sole source of income, and you donate $5,000/year to charity. Let's treat you, quite fairly, as making $25/hour. So you're donating $5,000. That's 200 hours worth of work. So don't donate the $5000, but instead donate 200 hours of time for free to charity. Those are equivalent, given perfectly reasonable assumptions.

The "don't work for free" nonsense is utter nonsense. Your time is money. You can donate time or you can donate money. And there is no difference between the two.
Mychine
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On Nov 20, 2015, RiderBacks wrote:
... Your time is money. You can donate time or you can donate money. And there is no difference between the two.

Off to make a motivational poster out of this. I totally agree and yet still forget too often.
MagicMark502
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This is an interesting topic. Be definition a volunteer is someone who performs a service willingly and without pay. I also agree with many that since we are doing it willingly we should focus on those charities we are interested in. I have volunteered for years, and continue to do so when I have time. I have performed hundreds of hours to children's hospitals, senior living establishments as well as battered women homes. I do this because of the difference I can make in their lives even if for that moment. I think as magicians who are out looking for work a lot and for some, feeding our families via our magic income, we forget the unique skill we have to entertain and make people believe and feel "magic" again. I have had many people (parents) tell me that their children smile the most when I visit them and some say they only smile when I am there. To me this is the power of donating my time as a magician. I see it as a chance to make a difference in a very busy/complex world we live in.

I completely see the argument over taxes , etc. I do. I will book a paid show before a free show almost every time. However if I have the time to donate, I see it as a privilege and almost always get something from the experience for myself. Expressions, laughter , amazement bring me back. I remember how I felt when I saw magic. I want others to feel that as well.

We are lucky to have the skills we have. It's a unique profession.
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