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How to tactfully decline playing benefits

Rich G.

Experienced
I'm not sure if this is a universal thing, but it certainly happens a lot where I'm from. Something unfortunate happens where people need money. A house burns down, an unforeseen illness, a tragic accident. People group together to see what they can do to help... and someone suggests "let's get a band... to play... for free". It's at that point my band gets contacted. Often by someone who has never seen the band before. They ask "Would you be able and willing to play a benefit for <blank> for free?".

We're busy enough where most times our reply is "Thank you for considering us. We're very sorry to hear about <blank>. Unfortunately, we are unable to participate in the benefit as we are booked that entire weekend.". Sometimes people will change the date of the benefit to a date where we are available.

We want to help everyone, but the simple fact is sometimes you have to draw the line. How do you handle the delicate situation of declining such requests?
 

Geezerjohn

Fractal Fanatic
IMHO it seems like you are handling it well. Your response is compassionate and sensitive to the situation. If y’all are available and sympathetic to the cause then it’s very generous of you to perform. If you are not available, for whatever reasons, then you respectfully decline.
 

reclavea

Power User
I'm not sure if this is a universal thing, but it certainly happens a lot where I'm from. Something unfortunate happens where people need money. A house burns down, an unforeseen illness, a tragic accident. People group together to see what they can do to help... and someone suggests "let's get a band... to play... for free". It's at that point my band gets contacted. Often by someone who has never seen the band before. They ask "Would you be able and willing to play a benefit for <blank> for free?".

We're busy enough where most times our reply is "Thank you for considering us. We're very sorry to hear about <blank>. Unfortunately, we are unable to participate in the benefit as we are booked that entire weekend.". Sometimes people will change the date of the benefit to a date where we are available.

We want to help everyone, but the simple fact is sometimes you have to draw the line. How do you handle the delicate situation of declining such requests?
I get it here all the time! Tough!!
I do 99.99% of them if I’m free.

I hear if from my other half a lot.

She’s adamant at least 1/3 to 1/2 of our normal charge.
 

luke

Fractal Fanatic
The problem with being nice is, they keep coming back.

Much simpler to say, "I'm sorry, I do not do charity gigs".
 

Rich G.

Experienced
The problem with being nice is, they keep coming back.
Very true... AND if you play a benefit for A, but not for B then people are bound to get upset.

One thing I have no problem rejecting is a "fundraiser". For example, if your daughter's cheer team is trying to raise money so her cheer team can go to a national competition in FL. Yes- we were asked to play for free for such a fundraiser.
 

Jimmytwotimes

Experienced
I only do charity gigs for things I truly believe in and am passionate about. For example - I'll do anything for animals - anytime.
When asked, I have said " sorry, I am already actively involved in a few other charities and just don't have the time for ____ ."
And respectfully decline. I am not an etiquette expert - but I feel I have to draw the line somewhere. Otherwise people can, and have taken advantage of my kindness.
 

paulasbell

Inspired
Good suggestions already. Here's an approach that might help, as well....
"Thanks for your interest in our band, and I'm very sorry to hear about the accident (or whatever). We get a lot of similar requests, and here's the policy we've been forced to adopt. Our usual fee is $800 (or whatever). However, we'd be happy to play for your event for $400... so, 50% (or whatever % you think is fair) of our normal fee. Hopefully, that substantially reduced fee, plus the good will of your attendees, will still allow you to make a meaningful amount of money for your worthwhile cause."
The advantage of doing it THIS way is that it puts the onus of effective organization and publicity on THEM. Otherwise, any amount brought in by them over zero is a "success"... and you wind up doing most of the "contributing".
Another angle is to explain that you'd prefer to structure your discount as a charity contribution, with a paper trail. So, they pay your standard fee of, say, $800, and you happily write a check to them for $400, at the end of the event.
Obviously, if you're not especially sympathetic to the cause, there's a different set of responses...;)
 

Xrocker

Power User
I say if you support my charity I’ll support yours.

Mine is “The Trace Rocks Ex Groupie Rehabilitation Center.”

I work hard rehabilitating ex groupies back in to being groupies again.

It’s time and cash intensive.
 

Flatnine

Inspired
Group iplay with does numerous benefits and or fund raisers- we always get paid. It's part of the budget of those types of events.

I wonder if they ask companies to come cater the event for free?
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
Group iplay with does numerous benefits and or fund raisers- we always get paid. It's part of the budget of those types of events.

I wonder if they ask companies to come cater the event for free?

Many restaurants I’ve worked at in the past have donated some food and staff to help with various events, all for free.

Generally the idea of charity or a fund raiser is everyone is donating time, materials etc, to help out, raise money etc
 

electronpirate

Moderator
Moderator
I do tons of charity work. I only decline if booked. There’s a lot of need for help and too few willing to. I try to whenever I can.
For me this is the correct answer.

But if you're really against it, I feel the best way to approach it is to be completely honest, and say either financially or schedule wise we're not available. Lying about scheduling is too easy to be found out, and it just causes hurt. To ease the pain ask them to print out some flyers to the charity and mention it at a few gigs 'we have a friend that needs your help, etc'.
 

Muad'zin

Fractal Fanatic
I always felt that benefit concerts were great ways to get free publicity. If that's what you're after. And even for big and famous bands. It worked for Queen.
 
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