Recently I have seen a lot of discussions on social media about giving back as a Barber or Hair Stylist and I felt it was time to finally have an open dialogue regarding when we should or should not participate. For the five years I have been working as a freelance artist, I have participated in somewhere around 4-5 unpaid or low paying events/jobs that I felt would make a difference. But this isn't about my career, it's about yours and when you should say 'yes' or 'no'.
If you have Instagram or Google notifications then you have certainly heard about the recent trend of barbers like Mark Bustos giving back to the homeless or that The Vatican is now offering shaves in addition to haircuts and showers. If you aren't in the hair realm then perhaps you have heard of other not-for-profit programs that offer makeovers for women in shelters or with cancer and MS.
But what about the people that are just looking for hand-outs? Who don't want to pay and don't even have the proper registration? You will walk away annoyed and feeling like it was a waste of your time. I want to prevent this because we, as artists, do have social responsibility to give back in ways that other groups cannot.
Here are four tips for making sure that this job is legitimate, first, and worth your time, second.
Why are you doing this? Is it for the 'likes' on Instagram? Or maybe praise from the people organizing the event? Look, I don't think I've ever gone a day without thanking someone for the smallest thing but when it comes to these events you may not be thanked. There is so much more at play than just the makeup like catering running behind or the venue not allowing the amount of people they said they would. Address why you want to do this: money, likes, or because it's something that genuinely makes you happy, and you won't have any problems feeling unfulfilled.
Are they paying? If yes, how will they pay you? Cash day of, check in two billing cycles, etc. Most of the time non-profit groups don't have a lot of funding to pay for an event but they either budget it or make sure that you're paid quickly for your time on a low rate. If they're not paying you, then just like when you donate clothing to some places, they will give you a voucher for your taxes at the end of the year and you simply claim how much you would normally charge and/or how much product you used. If not? I'd be careful which leads me to my next point.
Are they registered as a Non-Profit or 501(c)3? Some companies try to tell artists that their event is non-profit which is a sneaky way of saying,"We've already paid too many people, sorry." If someone approaches you and you have a weird feeling in your gut, LISTEN TO IT! Don't be afraid to ask the right questions like Crystal Wright always says. Unsure of what the right questions are? Ask Crystal. ;)
4.) REACH OUT
If this event is larger than 25-50 people then they definitely have at least 1-2 additional artists. See if they have worked with them before and how their experience was. Most of the non-profits I have worked for have invited me back each year and I've only said no to one. That was after I didn't listen to my gut and ask the right questions AKA I shot myself in the foot.
There you have it ladies and gents. With these tips you should be on a solid start for you all journeying into the world of charitable services. As Mark Bustos says,"Remember to be awesome to somebody."
Until Next Time!