Asking for your Help and Ideas

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Guest » 12/05/01 02:54 PM

An idea came to me as I flew home yesterday that I would like to float by the members of this and other magic communities. I would like to do more than float it by you I am asking for your help.

I was performing in Wilmington Delaware over the weekend and there was a front-page article in the local paper about the Salvation Army. In short they were having trouble getting enough volunteers to ring the bells and man the kettles this year. Now love them or be annoyed by them (the bells, that is) I was not aware that the kettles have been used to provide free Christmas dinners to the nations poor since 1891. I was further impressed by the fact that today the Salvation Army aids more than 7,000,000 Americans by providing a meal at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Most of us are fortunate. Lets take a quick look at what we have. We have jobs that allow us to provide for our families and we have a common love of performing magic (for some of us it is one and the same). And although each of us may not have the disposable income that would allow financial contributions to a worthy cause, I do believe there is one additional thing that we all have in common - and that is time (not to mention our hearts). So lets look at the two common denominators -PERFORMING MAGIC and TIME.

If you put them together and add the people in need across our country you get a program I have created called THE MAGIC OF GIVING.

With your help it will work like this. On Saturday December 22 thousands of magicians across the country will come together to help those families in their communities who are less fortunate and otherwise would not have a Christmas Dinner. Each magician would volunteer to perform/work at a Salvation Army Kettle for 2 or 3 hours (even 1 hour would be a first step and we would certainly accept more. Hey why not team up and get a couple of guys to work shifts). All donations received would go in to the Salvation Army kettles to feed families in the magicians own towns.

That is it. You go out and do something most magicians do not get enough of an opportunity to do perform in front of lay people. You call attention to a worthy cause the feeding of those less fortunate in your home towns. And you should feel great that through your performance you will have brought some real magic to those children and families in need this holiday.

Some times we lose sight of the fact that each of us doing just a little good results in a whole lot of good. For example if we could get just half of Geniis 6,500 subscribers and throw in some of Stan Allens subscribers and get word out through the IBM and SAM rings as a magic community we could raise well over $1,000,000.00 (thats right MILLION dollars). You see 5,000 magicians raising only $100.00 an hour for two hours each puts us at a million. That is a potential that we could all be very proud of.

In registering this program I would like to see it become more than an annual event. It is a way to bring a positive focus to the magic community as a whole while benefiting those in our country who are in need.

Although personally I do not hold Mr. David Blane in very high regard or any regard for that matter I have heard plenty of magicians who believe they could have done better just given the chance. Well here it is. Get out there and share your magic with the public and who knows you may just get that big break everyone dreams of. And just think you are doing it all for a good cause.

My attorneys and manager are currently working on coordination with the Salvation Army at a national level and I will post more information as it becomes available. It is not my intention to limit these efforts to the Salvation Army, as I have no personal affiliation with them or any other non-profit group other than my respect for their efforts to help others. We are looking at ways to expand THE MAGIC OF GIVING to benefit other charities. Any ideas you have would be welcomed at

You can help in the following ways. Let me know if you like the idea. Let me know other magic forums and web pages where we could post this information. Take this information to your local IBM or SAM ring. Or if you are not affiliated tell a magic friend or two. And finally get ready to go out and volunteer.

Further questions can be addressed directly to me at

Postby Tom Dobrowolski » 12/05/01 03:15 PM

This is actually part of a much larger issue. A number of charities are suffering much lower donations due to the terrific response to collecting funds for victims of the 911 tragedy. While this is obviously a good thing it has hit the other charities.
I would suggest magicians take the time to volunteer, or for those who can, to contribute to their favorite charities.There are many worthy chariities that need a boost this year. Let's all make the effort to help our favorite charity.
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Postby Guest » 12/05/01 03:26 PM

Great point Tom.

All of the worthwile organizations helping those in need could benefit from our help. I was faced with the specific question of how could we as a magic community help the most people in the shortest amount of time possible.

My solution was the kettle program. It is a very visible means of raising funds that is present in most communities accross the country. So I felt that it would be easier to bring magic to an existing fund raising tool than to create a new one.

But I would encourage everyone to help any way they can.

Postby Guest » 12/07/01 08:22 AM

Thought I would try this under a different heading and see if we could get some discussion on this topic

Postby Matthew Field » 12/07/01 08:32 AM

William Gillis should be aware that not all magicians support the proselytizing Salvation Army, despite their good work. If magicians wish to raise money for feeding the poor, there are many ways to do so without adding to the coffers of the Salvation Army, which uses some of the funds raised for their own overhead. The United Way is one example.

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Postby Guest » 12/07/01 09:33 AM


The United Way is an outstanding organization and somewhat unique in that donations raised are not distributed directly to individuals. All donations are invested back into the comunity where they are raised through non-profit, tax exempt charities.

These organizations must be governed by volunteers, submit to an annual, independent financial audit, provide services at a reasonable cost, and maintain a policy of non-discrimination.

This is a great way to minimize so many of the abuses that exist in the non profit sector.

Last year through participation in various functions in San Diego and Southern California The Gillis Group helped raise over $650,000 for local charities. Many of these monies were to directly benefit non profits supported by the United Way.

I am sure we could start a never ending philosophical discussion on the Salvation Army and other charities. This was not my intent. I was simply looking for a way to perhaps bring some magicians together accross the country and do some good.

If the sole result of this topic is the encouragement of even one person to go and give his time or donate to his or her favorite charity than I will be satisfied.

Postby Guest » 12/07/01 11:03 AM

I'm afraid that Matt's religious prejudices are clouding his vision on this one.

The administrative overhead for the Salvation Army is 17% relative to that of the 13% for the United Way (see, for example, the BBB "give" reports). What's more, the United Way funnels some of its money to the Salvation Army -- because the Army reaches folk that nobody else is willing to touch.

For less than a nickel on the dollar, I figure we should give them the respect they deserve, proselytization or no.

regards, Doug

Postby Matthew Field » 12/07/01 12:31 PM

Originally posted by Doug Peters:
I'm afraid that Matt's religious prejudices are clouding his vision on this one.

I'd say "social beliefs" as opposed to "religious prejudices," Doug, but the fact remains that not everyone wishes to donate to an organizations whose stand on issues like homosexuality and AIDS has been, in my admittedly singular belief system, unacceptable.

Still, I wish everyone would do something to make Christmas (or Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, etc.) for those in need just a little brighter.

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Postby Steve Hook » 12/07/01 10:08 PM

While the percentage certainly varies (and is worth investigating), few charities operate without overhead. Charities require organization and governance, and trained and skilled governors are most likely going to be in need of income.

I've seen the Salvation Army do much great work, particularly in my former home state of Hawaii. And I worked for three years with a United Way agency, so I know they do good work as well. And there are others...

What I'll take from your post, Matt, is to be aware of what your favorite charity is doing, what it's costing to be run, and who's running it.

And I'll add that a reasonable rate of overhead is not necessarily a point of condemnation.
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Postby Terry » 12/08/01 07:01 AM

"there are many ways to do so without adding to the coffers of the Salvation Army, which uses some of the funds raised for their own overhead. The United Way is one example.
Matt Field"

This isn't an attack on Matt, but the United Way abuses the money they collect. There was a HUGE public outcry in Jacksonville 4-5 years ago when it was disclosed the local leader was making over 100M per year. 4 - 5 times the amount of most contributors who make the donations.

Also the United Way publicly announces their contributors - a really nice way to "persuade" a company to participate or face possible public questions.

I also worked for the KY Attorney General's Consumer Protection, Charitable Registration group and I can tell you that of most of the phone/mail solicitations made on behalf of charities, the charity may only see between 4 - 6% pledged after all "expenses" have been covered. Something to consider when solicited by phone/mail.

My personal solution - give directly to the charity I choose and not think about it further. If I worry over it, then I haven't given for the right reason.

My 2 cents worth.
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Postby Guest » 12/21/01 01:35 PM

I apologize for dredging up an old thread, but I just ran into a reference to the article that sparked my previous posts...

In a 1998 Forbes magazine, management guru Peter Drucker called Sally Ann "the most effective organization in the United States".

"No one comes close to it with respect to clarity of mission, ability to innovate, measureable results, dedication, and putting money to maximum use."

cheers, Doug

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