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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Fundraiser (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Magicjg
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I was recently contacted in regards to performing a fundraiser show for a local baseball team. They asked me what I would charge to perform. My usual show ranges somewhere around $250-500 for a local show of the sorts. Would you consider cutting some sort of deal? A percentage of the door possibly? Or would a flat rate be better. I do not want to quote to high, seeing that they will not make any money. Any thoughts?
Dannydoyle
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At a fundraiser in general the ONLY person not getting paid is a magician. The hall gets paid, the caterer gets paid, so should you.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Jim Snack
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In the past, whenever I received a call for a fund raiser, I was reluctant to accept the booking. Fund raising deals like this can go sour fast. What usually happens is that someone on committee gets the brilliant idea that it would be an easy way to make some money for their organization. Unfortunately they know nothing about promoting a show and selling tickets. If the organization fails to sell enough tickets to cover the show cost, everybody loses. Then they are upset because they had to pay your fee, they ended up losing money on the event, and they look bad to their peers.

You lose too. Either you offer to cut your fee so the organization doesn’t lose money, or you hold them to the contract and get paid your full fee. But you still lose, because now you have a reputation for making the organization lose several hundred dollars. And other organizations will hear about it and not want to book your show. You will be the fall guy. So be wary when you receive a request to do a fund raiser for an organization.

Before you agree to anything, sit down with the committee and have a discussion about goals and responsibilities. Ask questions like:

What kinds of fundraisers have they held in the past?
How did they go over?
If they did a show before, how many tickets did they sell?
How much money do they hope to make from your show?
What will their expenses be?
What will they provide?
How will they sell tickets?
How will they promote the show.
What do they expect you to provide?
How much promotion will you be required to do?

Based upon their responses, you can determine if THEY have their act together well enough to handle their responsibilities. Then you can also determine what an equitable split would be, given the potential box office revenue. I do fundraisers on a 50/50 split, and then help promote the show as much as needed, because it's in my vested interest.

Because I don't have a big show with illusions, I always sell them on the idea of having a magic show and ice cream social. I only have to do my 45-50 minute family show, and the ice cream social fills out the rest of the night. That has worked so well for me that I wrote it up in a special report available on my website (shameless plug), but it's not rocket science. Anybody can do something similar. I just give you the artwork for posters and flyers.

If you really want to do fundraisers on a bigger scale, check out John Kaplan's program. I'm sure someone will jump in here with more information on that.

Jim
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
www.success-in-magic.com
Al Angello
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Jim
Great post. Fundraisers have no respect for entertainers. The person you negotiate with is no where to be seen when it comes time to getting paid. You are lucky to get a glass of water while the volunteers are dining in the VIP lounge.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
David Garrity
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Hi Jason,

You didn't mention if this was a standalone event with your show as the main attraction or they asked you to do your act as part of a larger event; dinner/auction; etc.

This will have a large impact of what kind of arrangement you can make with them. We regularly do both types; standalone events with our show as the main event and also large gala type fundraisers.

Let us know and you'll get some more accurate responses.

Sincerely,
David
Bob Sanders
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Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
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Jim and I see this one alike. It is not that I never do free shows, but the promotion and organization of these shows is typically really lacking. If those two things are weak, you're not much help to them either. It can also make you look bad in the process. If the promotion is not pro, and you still want to help, write them a check and protect your career elsewhere where a pro production is possible.

There is a lot more to a fundraiser than the magic show.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

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Magicjg
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Wow thanks for the response. I have taken much of this information in consideration. I will be the main event. Someone mentioned cutting 50% of the door. This would either make me the entertainer much more money than a flat rate or none at all.
David Garrity
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Hi Jason,

These are the types of events we do quite often. A full-evening show for a fundraiser/family night type event and we do a 50/50 split of tickets. So far, every one of these that we have booked since we started working them about 3 years ago has made more than if we had charged outright.

That being said, you need a solid show of 75 minutes at least. If not, you can use Jim's suggestion and add an additional attraction, such as the Ice Cream.

When we do these, we have two different shows available. A large version of my one-man show (runs 90 minutes and incorporates an intermission) for venues of seats under 400. Or, a one-girl version of our illusion show (again, running 90 minutes) that we will bring to venues of 400 seats or more.

You need some hooks that help bring people in to the show; here is where a Bow Sawing (saw the principal, mayor, etc. in half) and a suspension illusion (float someone from the audience) will both help sell tickets AND get you in newspapers. Also, make sure you have some nice photos to go with the press releases because nothing helps sell magic show tickets like seeing an exciting photo!

Now mentioning press releases; you do have some for the event? Of course, the organization should be helping with the promotion, we have found that if you provide most of the materials it will make the difference between a sold out show and a show for 50 people!

Here is some of what we provide organizations for these types of event:
Press Releases
Color Posters
Ticket Masters
Flyer Masters
Souvenir Program Master
and more....

I also send out the press releases via email with photos to the newspapers and tv stations. Making yourself available for an interview either on TV or with a newspaper is important. And leveraging your facebook and email list to let people know about the event helps, too.

As you can see, there is a lot to producing a fundraising event, however, there is nothing like stepping on stage to a sold out house of people who paid specifically to see you! Plus, you know you've helped a terrific cause and given the people there an entertaining show.

Please do it right because if you don't it turns into a bad experience for the organization. I can't tell how many times I have been approached by a client after a performer charged them a mint to do a fundraising show, promising that they would sell out, and then no one shows up. Not only did the organization not make the money it was counting on, now they owe someone their fee. Even in the WORST popcorn fundraiser in the world the organization wouldn't end up in the RED! Plus, if you know it's a 50/50 door deal, you'll be encouraged to do everything you can to get the butts in the seats!

When done properly, these events are win-win-win!

Sincerely,
David
Jim Snack
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David,

Well put! Anyone considering doing a fundraising show should read your posting several times over, and do everything you recommend.

As you said, if planned and executed well, a fundraising show done on a 50/50 split can be a win/win business deal and a rewarding experience. Plus, it's a great way for a performer to get experience producing and promoting a public show.

I would caution against doing the first one in a large theater where there are 1000 or more tickets to sell. For the first fundraising show, pick a smaller venue -under 400 seats, is a good number. Then, if you only sell 200 tickets, you still have a half house, which won't be too bad to play to. Put those 200 people in a 1500 seat theater, and it's a pretty thin audience. After you've learned all the things you have to do to put 200 bodies in seats and had success at that level, you will be ready to step up to a bigger house.

Remember, the members of the organization you are raising money for are not show business professionals. They really don't know how to sell a show. That's your job. If you are a professional, it's your responsibility to draw enough people to fill the house. To do it properly, you will spend more time on promotion than you will on the show. But the payoff -financial and other - can be much bigger than if you just sold the show for a flat fee, took the money, and did nothing else but your show.

Jim
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
www.success-in-magic.com
TheMagicianGuide
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Negotiate a percentage off . . . typically the only free perfomances for us are hospital appearences for the kiddos . . . they will get to use your name to attract more folks to their event . . . have a list ready when organizations like this request your time - offer them suggestions on how to use and market your performance effectively . . . nothing worse than doing a discounted performance for 4 people . . . make sure you take plenty of your own promotionals materials as well - then at least the show might turn into a few more gigs down the road. . .
TheMagicianGuide.com - National Magician Directory.

The Magician Guide is part of Kids Party Resource network of childrens entertainers and event rentals.
Dannydoyle
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I will say this and be done pretty much.

I would NEVER consider a door deal, unless you had some input on how things were done as far as selling and marketing goes. To leave it up to them is sometimes ok, but in general you pay for their mistakes. Those lessons can be quite expensive.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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