I am a professional event manager. A few years ago, I was approached by a non-profit organization that wanted to erect a monument for all the victims of domestic violence. The three-headed organization had already organized a big event but decided that they were going to organize a concert to get the remainder of the money needed for the monument. They asked me about six months in advance if I was willing to be the stage manager for the concert. It was a worthy cause so I agreed. Then they invited me to a meeting.
Client: So, we are going to do a great concert, at this amazing venue. There are all kinds of artist that are willing to work with us for free, but they are all C-listers. We really want A-list artists. We also want a full crew of volunteers to do everything from sounds and lighting to stagehands, greeters, bar-staff, PA’s to the artists, promotions, etc. Besides that, we need full media coverage, and of course a great media campaign. We don’t really have anything yet, everything needs to be organized and designed. We have about six months to pull this together. Since we’ve already put in a lot of time in the last event, we decided that you get to do this one.
Me: You mean you want me to fully organize this massive event?
Client: No, no.
Client: We keep the last say in everything, you don’t get to make the final decisions. But other than that: yes.
Me: …Okay, that is a lot of work for one person. If I would basically carry the sole responsibility for this and have my name tied to it, I would like to get some insight into the finances of the foundation. I’m sure you can understand that.
Client: NO! You just have to trust us! The money is none of your business!
Me: Okay. Then at least what is your budget for this?
Client: Pay? Oh no, we don’t pay employees nor do we pay expenses for volunteers. Do you know how much of our own money we’ve already put into this fund? This must be a fun thing to do for a great cause!
Client: You’re very serious, you shouldn’t be so serious!
Since I was sitting there with them, I didn’t really want to say something, so when I got home, I’d send them an e-mail saying that I was not interested in doing this project, but that I was still willing to work as a stage manager. They not-so-politely declined.
A few months later, news trickled out that the director had been using the monument money to pay for his house renovations. So much for “you have to trust us!”