I turned down a gig last weekend that was being run by a non- profit group that promotes art in my city.
Posted In: Professional Harpists
I agree with you that I would also have declined the job.Continuing to accept gigs like this perpetrates the myth that music is free and comes out of the walls (or the sky!).
I think their budget needs to be revised, but I run against this all the time. “Oh, this is a fund-raiser for such a good cause!” or “Can’t you cut or eliminate your fee since we’re a non-profit.”
You might be right regarding coordinators managing their budgets differently, especially if the group contacted you first regarding music; if it was their intention to have music then they should find some way of paying you. You are a harpist (a business owner) that has to make money too.
However, I play for weddings and events, and frankly, in my own small town I found it to be in my best interest to play for many non-profit-organization events. When doing those events (especially local ones) and marketing via business cards/brochures, I became much more well-known in my community, which was what I wanted, since I am trying to increase the number of events that I play at.
Actually, I even like to keep track of events that are approaching in the near future around my area by reading the local newspaper and “community happenings” magazines; then I make some calls to determine the event coordinators and book from there.
I don’t know what your calendar looks like, but if I had a fairly-full schedule, then personally, I would be cautious about taking events that weren’t paying.
Yes, I’d agree with Jessica here. I do know people who’ve used voluntary playing to great effect, but the trick is only to do it for organizations where you’re a member. Otherwise, you just create bad feeling when the word gets out that you’re available for nothing and you play for free for organization A and then turn down Organization B.
Jerusha, I think you did the right thing, too.
I agree with you all. I would only add that under no circumstance would I get into haggling or explaining myself to the organization involved. Many fundraisers and charity events are run by wealthy people who use the charity event to write off the expense of throwing an expensive party. I’m sure they are paying the going rate for the caterers to supply canapes, for the wine and other drinks, for the decoration, and for the servers who keep the whole thing running. So they can also pay for the music. I would be tempted to say to one of these charities “I’d love to play for your event for free, if you would pay my mortgage for this month.”
As someone who works full time for a non-profit charity and plays harp on the side, I understand both sides of this issue. While I have played for some charities, I’ve not ever gotten any additional gigs through doing so. If you believe in a particular cause and do your homework on the organization, I think it’s great to make a personal decision to support a non-profit by donating your service or reducing your fee if you are comfortable doing so and believe in the cause you’re supporting. I can attest that while some non-profits may be run by the wealthy interested in throwing a big party, there are also a great many who are doing critical work in our communities. The homeless shelter that I’m the full-time grant writer for conducts several fundraising events each year, and we make every effort to keep costs down – for example, we get all of the catering donated – so that as much of the funds raised as possible go into providing direct shelter, food, case management and medical care for homeless men, women and children. So, I think that first and foremost you should ask yourself if the cause is one you believe in, do your research on the non-profit and how well they manage their funds, and ask yourself if you can afford to donate to them. It’s a very personal decision, and you should never feel obligated to do so just because they ask.
yeah, pretty much what everybody has said here. “Not in the budget” doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have the money, it means they don’t wish to pay you. Typically these people may try something on like, “you may be offered other bookings” and has been mentioned here yes you will. Other unpaid bookings.
The last time this happenned, was for a promotional/non profit food and wine festival some 120kilometres away from my house. I told them, “i’m having a party next month, drive 120kms to my place with your food and wine. you can hand out business cards and you might get some bookings out of it”. He still didn’t get it.
I also have a policy where I tell these people straight out “I do three freebies a year and they are taken for this year but if you would like I can put it in the diary for next year” They never get back to you.
I actually do a number of freebies a year, but its generally a case of me approaching them because its either something I believe it or something that I genuinely believe will help my career.
-The last time this happenned, was for a promotional/non profit food and wine festival some 120kilometres away from my house. I told them, “i’m having a party next month, drive 120kms to my place with your food and wine. you can hand out business cards and you might get some bookings out of it”.=
That’s a great response.
Another thing I’d like to point out about “the caterer donated the food”. Yes, and got a whacking big tax deduction for it, too. You can deduct physical donations but not services. And many (not all, but more than a few) caterers would just list this out as something like “donated 500 shepherd’s purses @ $8 each” and somehow the cost of their servers and delivery and all just happened to creep in there, unbeknownst to them. Or, if they’re more honest, they donate the food and charge for the service.