June 2019 Chatter
Posted at 31/05/19 - 04:16 PM
As entertainers we are always in demand with charity organisations who are looking to raise money by putting on all manner of events. The problem that the organisers face is that on the one hand they need to offer something that will excite the interest of potential attendees, but on the other the likelihood is that they can’t spend a fortune doing so if they want to make any profit for their coffers.
So it is that we performers receive an enquiry for our services, and quite often somewhere in the request will be the phrase “we don’t have much money”. The implication, even if it is not expressly stated, is that they are hoping we will work either for nothing or at least virtually for nothing.
Now, if magic is your hobby and you are looking for excuses to actually get out and perform, a charity gig that you work for free can provide the perfect opportunity. With no financial remuneration to have to live up to, you can pretty much relax and just enjoy the event. The charity gets an entertainer at no cost, and you benefit from the experience.
However, for those of us who either earn a living from magic, or who rely on show income to bolster the pay from a regular job, the situation is more difficult. Every charity is a worthy cause, but how many of them can you afford to support?
Over the years I have adopted different approaches, and in the end I have come to the conclusion that working completely for free is usually the wrong thing to offer to do. And there are several reasons why I make this assertion.
The first is that all but the very smallest of charities will have a budget of some sort for funding their promotional events. They are unlikely to expect the venue, the caterers, the wine suppliers and the whole host of other people who come together to put on a function, all to provide their services and products for free. So why should the magician be the mug who does?
Secondly, when something is free, strangely it is often not rated as highly as something that has a built in cost. If you work for nothing you will not be treated possibly as well as others who have valued their time and effort—it’s as if you are saying that what you provide is not important or of any real quality.
Thirdly, once you start performing for free in your area, word will spread and other charities will expect you to do the same for them. Fine if you just want to perform regularly, as I mentioned earlier, not so clever otherwise.
So, there are one or two ways to approach this if you would like to get involved with charity work but not at any cost. You can select a charity you have a particular liking for and only work for them, turning down all other enquiries, since you can feel that you have ‘done your bit”.
Or you can offer to work for any charity but with a reduction on your normal fee. This is how I usually do it. I tell them what my normal fee would be and then explain that for charity events, I am happy to reduce it down to £xxx. Most charities are appreciative of the reduction because they understand you can’t get something for nothing, and it leaves you happy too.
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