It’s a sign of achieving some skill at playing the saxophone to be asked to play for charity from time to time. For the record, I am a very big believer in giving back to your community, and in helping those deserving individuals who are less fortunate. That being said, I have some pretty strong opinions on this topic.
I have been asked many times to appear on behalf of some worthy cause or another. I am happy to do so (schedule permitting) subject to the following non-negotiable condition: if ANYBODY associated with the event is getting paid or reimbursed for their expenses, then I get paid. This includes the caterer, the printer of the invitations, the parking lot attendant, everybody. No exceptions.
Well meaning charities often draw a distinction between what I do and can contribute and some “fixed overhead” items, like printing and food. I suppose they assume that all my horns and equipment were given to me and that all those lessons were free.
I find this attitude very offensive. It tells me they think that what I do has no value. I also have a problem with educational institutions which regularly solicit our company for the donation of instruments and other equipment.
Almost every week, I hear from some school requesting a donation. All of these schools have a budget, and all of them buy things. Most are required to take bids for major purchases. We haven’t gotten a bid request from ANY school in years. They’re spending money with somebody, but not with us. Here’s my response to these solicitations of contributions: I’ll donate a sum equal to 20% of all the bid requests I’ve gotten from you for the last five years. Seems fair enough to me!