Doing tarot readings for charities is a tricky thing for a few reasons, so I’m going to break it down for you. Now, this is for professional readers, not for folks who pull out their cards for an hour or two to help out with the cookie drive, ok? If you are a professional reader who claims their tarot expenses on their taxes, this is for you. If you get PAID to do readings? This is mostly for you, too.
One time, I did a reading for a local charity that I adored. I got paid in advance and donated my tips back to them. I asked for a receipt so I could claim the donation on my taxes. They said they’d send it. I asked about it a lot. They sent it five months later on April 13th – two days before Tax Day. I had to wait five months to get my flippin’ receipt.
One time, I did readings for a local charity and they said they wouldn’t have the money until AFTER the event and would I mind waiting a week. I said, “Ok! It’s a charity!”. That was about seven years ago. They have really long weeks there. I wrote it off as a bad investment.
One time, I did readings for a local charity and was paid for two hours. They asked that I stay longer, and said that they’d pay me the next day. That was five years ago. I get paid in advance, now.
One time (recently!) a friend of mine read for a charity. Two months, I think, have passed and she still hasn’t been paid. She’s never reading for a charity again.
I have also had these things happen: Gotten sworn at, prayed over, seated next to a speaker with a spotlight in my face, been put into an actual closet to read, had to sit on the floor, and have had wine spilled on my goddamned cards. All at charity events.
NOW – I have also had some amazing events! Those have happened recently in the last four years.
What’s changed, you ask? I started using a contract and treating my business like a business.
- Have a contract that you use for ALL events. All of them. You need to specify that you will get breaks, water, a table and three chairs, no speakers near your head, no lights in your face, you will leave after exactly X hours, you will get paid in advance, you can use a tip jar (or not, depends on the charity, but I put it in), etc. Benebell Wen made available this amazing contract template – check it out. Look for “Sample Services Agreement (for Parties and Events)”.
- Get paid in advance. Seriously, get paid in advance. Don’t work until you get paid. In advance. I ask for the entire amount first. If they don’t wanna, I ask for a two hour ($250) non-refundable deposit, then specify in the contract that the rest is owed within a week of the event, subject to late fees if unpaid. If they don’t wanna, I don’t work for them.
- If you have donated your wages or your tips – bring a receipt with you and fill in the blanks. My girl, Ellen Herget, brings a receipt book to events with her, writes them in and has the person sign before she starts working. We worked the party I was talking about (no receipt for five months) together. Guess who filed her taxes when SHE wanted to? (not me. it was Ellen)
- Do not get bullied or intimidated by the fact that the charity is a charity. They pay their electric bill on time, they should pay you on time, too.
- IF YOU WANT to donate your services, fine. That’s your choice. Get a receipt.
- IF YOU WANT to donate your tips, fine. That’s your choice. Get a receipt.
- IF YOU DON’T WANT to read for charities, fine. That’s your choice. Don’t.
I love reading for my local charities. I really do. But I love it a lot more when I’m paid, treated fairly, and can work comfortably. The contract will protect both you and the organization for whom you’re writing.
OH – and someone asked me if I ever “donate my services” for a for-profit company?HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHALOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL no. No, I don’t.