Raising Money for Charity through the love of Magic: the Gathering
Have you ever fallen out of love with Magic? If you’re newer to the game, maybe that’s hard to believe. But for us old dogs, we all know that Magic can be cyclical—it can take a backseat to other priorities, especially if your playgroup is subject to change, or the nearest game store couldn’t stay open. I was in a similar place, not so long ago. October, to be exact. I was on lunch break at, let’s just say, a major healthcare employer in Minnesota. There, we often play Commander. Now, I’m the type of guy who’d done lots of FNMs and the occasional Grand Prix. If you’ve read my previous stuff here, you’ll also know that I collect complete sets and weird misprints.
Anyway, a fellow player mentioned that he’d committed to 24 hours of gaming as part of Extra-Life.org’s annual fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. I’d suggested offering up my house for a little Commander to while away the time, and even my Rolodex of about 30 players from over the years I could invite and chip in $20 for food and door prizes…and of course, charity. I also cracked open my super-collection, with my idea that anything I sold, I’d donate half. People apparently liked the idea, because my house was packed and we were able to donate $500 to Extra Life after expenses.
People had such a good time and were so moved by the idea, they immediately asked when the next event was and what the next cause would be. Uhhh. We scrambled. Like really nervously freaked out to cook up another idea. Would it, could it attract the same attention as last time? My basement is only so big, and we can’t keep going back to local game stores begging for door prizes…can we? Well it was November and the Salvation Army kettles were coming out…so was Commander 2016. We plucked up some courage and asked a local comics store if he might be willing to sell our little group of 8-10 guys several CASES of C16…as cheaply as possible…? The store came through in a huge way. And our player community came out big as well. After expenses, $700 to Salvation Army.
Is this a…thing? I’d heard whispers of pro players doing a little charity work, but this seemed so much more…fun! Magic is a game. Games are fun…ergo, Magic is…FUN? I thought, in darker moments, it was to waste away a Friday night with a netdeck to hopefully win one pack. Or a $500 weekend to go 2-3 drop. People thought nothing of spending $50, $60, $100 at these things and then we’d just horse around and eat food. OK. Reality check. Demand has been generated. Passive voice was being used. How do we keep this idea novel, and not anger game store owners, whose livelihood depends on foot traffic and cash from the very people we seemed to be attracting?
Meantime, I had to convince my mother I wasn’t running a nefarious gambling ring. She even insisted I work with the family tax attorney before the IRS would shut down Operation Santa. I hate it when she’s right. I had a Facebook page to maintain: Weirdcards Charitable Club. People wanted to plan ahead and get details. Magic players, planning. Weird indeed. And you read that right, under advice from said attorney, we were a non-profit social club. If you’re wondering what that is, so are we, but the lawyers say it is a 501(c)(7) organization where the members make $0. The proceeds go to making the club function. In our case, that’s the “new release” cards and food for the events. AND, by the way, we need to simultaneously stay friends with the neighbor kids—the very game stores that made event donations and are the lifeblood of our “tabletop” gaming community! With that in mind, we moved from Friday night events to monthly Saturdays 3-10pm. In fact, our mission statement, as a social club and NOT a charity, is “to provide a casual game night experience, and to promote local charities and game stores”.
Where do we go from here? Well, we’re building www.weirdcards.org. We have business cards with themed monthly events listed on back through July, 2017—generally around releases of new Magic products. We even have a hotel that is comping us a meeting room! Is this real? Does anyone care? Who knows, I just got here, too. By the way, I’ve found selling cards out of my personal collection surprisingly rewarding. It’s my hope that Weirdcards can be replicated elsewhere…everywhere. We thank echomtg.com and other amazing sponsors far and wide for taking a chance on a very Weird idea.