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Frugal Find: Volunteer for Free Admission

   Posted On: June 27, 2014  |    Posted In: Saving  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

girlscouts
Ah, Girl Scouts. My first experience with volunteer work.

Volunteering often invokes the image of selfless people giving of their time to help humanity (or animals). Or high school kids looking to round out a college application. Regardless, volunteer work often requires donating your time for a greater cause.

Then there are people, like me, who like to volunteer labor in exchange for getting something for “free”.

When I first moved to New York City, I clutched a copy of “The Cheap Bastards Guide to New York City.” I read that book cover-to-cover looking for survival tips in this often-expensive city. One of my favorite suggestions focused on scoring free entertainment. I quickly learned that I could volunteer to usher at off-Broadway playhouses and in-exchange, I could watch the show for free.

If you’ve ever ushered, you know this is the cake-walks of volunteer work, especially at small, off-Broadway playhouses.

Within a month of living in New York, I got on the free-usher circuit. The first show I worked was Unnatural Acts at the Classic Stage Company. To this day, it’s one of my favorite plays I’ve ever seen and I got to watch it entirely for free.

I showed up about an hour before doors opened, dressed in black, and had to prep playbills and check that the house was clean. After we opened, I helped a handful of people get to their seats. Then I got to sit in an empty seat to watch the play. During intermission I lingered awkwardly in the lobby to point out the restroom to inquiring patrons. After the curtain fell, I helped the house manager tidy up.

Fast-forward three years, and I’m still a fan of volunteering for free or significantly discounted events, as are some of my friends.

Recently, my friend Lillian sent me a few examples of events she planned to volunteer for in exchange for free admission. A few were beer festivals (genius) and another was the Tough Mudder competition (hopefully on a different week than the beer festival).

I know there are tons of events (especially in New York) to volunteer for and get free or discounted admission. For example, Governors Ball, Bronx Zoo, MoMA, but I’d love to hear what else is out there.

Let me know where to volunteer for cheap/free admission in the comment section!

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Girl Scout image taken from Flickr

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24 responses to “Frugal Find: Volunteer for Free Admission

  1. I honestly didn’t even know that you could volunteer to be an usher, that sounds awesome! I love theater in all forms, even off-off-off-Broadway, so I would love to try to do something like that. The beer festival might be a little to tempting for me to stay focused on the job at hand. Thank you so much for including my post this week! It stinks that we didn’t win yesterday, but at least we are out of the group of death. Onto Belgium! 🙂 Have an awesome weekend!

    1. The ushering experience was so great! I really need to get back on the circuit. I’m with you on the beer festival.

    1. That has actually been on my short list of shows to do here, mostly because Peach dressed up as the Blue Man group one Halloween and I want to go with him.

  2. That’s a great way to get to see free shows. I didn’t realize there was so little work involved. Knowing me, I’d volunteer for something that kept me on my feet for 3 hours without time to actually enjoy the event. It seems like there is a skill for finding the right opportunities or maybe I just need a book like that! Have a great weekend.

    1. I hear concerts can be like that. All work and very little play. It’s fun to do shows though because you almost always get to watch!

  3. I always kick myself for not doing this when I lived in Seattle where getting to the theater was easier, but in LA it’s not worth the drive. I have volunteered at music events though and then you get to stay for free. I’l have to consider the mud runs too because I’d like to do one but they are so expensive! Thanks so much for mentioning my article!

    1. Oh! Do the mud run! I think you at least get a discount for those events and you’re right, quite pricey.

  4. Sound like a great idea, I recently join an oversea volunteer organization and will be volunteering in Peru in October. Although it’s not free, I have never done any volunteering oversea yet, so it will be a great experience. Volunteering for admission is a great idea that I will consider next time also.

    1. Doing the pure forms of volunteering are certainly the better route. Nice to be selfless! But, sometimes it’s a great perk to work for free and get rewarded.

    1. Score! I find it shocking the major music festivals give free admission. I feel like people would pay to work at them.

  5. Did a similar job in college but it wasn’t volunteer work. For a low wage, I’d help the local arena setup for concerts. An added perk was free admission to the concerts.

  6. Very cool with the beer festival! My wife did a good bit of this before we were married as she lived in LA. She got to meet some cool people and see some events that she otherwise wouldn’t have been able to see.

  7. Really well put. Emily Capito’s written about how there are a different set of rules for charities than there are for the market in general. There shouldn’t be. Promotions work for charities as well as they do for private enterprise. When I give blood, it’s really because of the free movie passes I get after my third pint. 🙂

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