Speaking, educating, facilitating workshops and strategic consulting are how I pay the bills, put a roof over my head, and eat. I also believe in giving back. Here is what that looks like for me:
A maximum of 12 free engagements a year
Like other business owners, my company has overheads and I need to earn a living. So I draw the line at an average of one free event per month. My average fee is $4000 per event within the USA, so that works out to about $48,000 in presentations and preparation time that I donate every year.
I also sit on two boards of directors in my local community and volunteer at events in and around Denver on a regular basis. That’s the maximum I can do in terms of giving back, while still maintaining life balance and good health status.
Clients who have booked me to speak for free include:
- Turkish Tourism Health Council
- University of Denver
- University of Colorado
- Global Health Connections, Inc.
- Healthcare Financial Management Association
- Navarre Tourism Ministry, Spain
- Mexican Health Tourism Forum
“Free” doesn’t mean “Without cost”
If you book me for free, I’ll expect you to be flexible with your schedule and to agree to certain terms, which I’ve outlined here. You’ll be expected to keep up your end of the deal. Read through the terms and see if they work for you.
You’ll be expected to do things such as provide me with some volunteers to help out, write a letter of reference within 30 days of your event, and allow me to video tape the event and use the recording for promotional purposes. You must provide business class air travel for all flights in excess of 3 hours’ duration. This is required for medical reasons. A doctor’s letter can be supplied. My recommendation is that you find sponsors to cover this or barter the ticket with an airline in exchange for advertising at your health and wellness tourism event. Their cost to do this is the cost of graphics creation for their ad and the cost of their landing fees.
Clients must qualify
I offer my services for free to non-profit, government and educational organizations. I have a particular soft spot for universities. I do not speak for corporate clients for free.
Also, I don’t work with groups whose ethics or values are contrary to my own. If you’re wondering what that is all about, call me at +1-303-823-4662 or e-mail me and ask.
Book sales are not an opportunity
By contract with my publisher, Productivity Press, an Informa company, I am not permitted to sell my books as they are commercially published. If you wish to offer a book for a lucky draw, you must contact the publisher in writing to request this. If you wish to sell my books at the back of the room as a fund raising activity for your organization, you must contact the publisher to make arrangements. I will do a book autograph session in conjunction with a presentation on a topic related to one of my 14 professional trade books.
Videotaping must be allowed
I am in the process of updating the videos for my website and YouTube channel. If I do a free event for you, you will allow me to tape it and use parts or all of it for my marketing. You don’t keep the original video tape, I do. I share it with you once it has been processed. (Sometimes that takes a while). If you want to video tape me and keep the recording for your own use, then you need to book me for a full-fee engagement. If you wish to sell the tape, royalties are expected on all sales.
References and referrals
If you are happy with the work I do for you, then I will likely ask you for a reference letter or referrals to other clients. Often, a written letter of reference sent to me on your organization’s letter head within 30 days of the event is a normal part of the contract for a free engagement. I may also ask you for referrals and a list of attendees.
Cancellation policy: Paid work trumps free work
If I get full-paying speaking or consulting engagement, I can back out of a free engagement up to three weeks before the scheduled date. That means that if you are not flexible, then you will be better off hiring me as a paid speaker. Re-arrange your budget, look for grant money, or seek some other funding to engage me. If I have to cancel, I will try to find a replacement, but I can’t guarantee one. We can also re-schedule for a later date. I end up cancelling free events about 30% of the time. Sometimes it can take up to a year to get a free event completed.
If you really, really want a firm booking and can’t tolerate the idea that I might cancel and you do not have enough in your budget to book me for a live event and cover my travel expenses, then I suggest booking me for a virtual keynote or webinar, which is less expensive than booking me to speak live, in person.
Exceptions to the cancellation policy
If you engage me as a featured keynote speaker at an event for an audience of more than 250 paying attendees, you can consider it a firm booking. Speaking to large audiences is my idea of a really good time. A list of attendees and their information is required 15 days in advance of my departure for your event. This helps me customize the program to the needs of your audience.
Take note of the terms above that says a reference letter, referrals, travel requirements, and allowing me to video-tape the event are also part of the deal.
I do all the same preparation and public relations / promotional press releases for a free event as I do for a full-fee event. I work just as hard. I put in just as much preparation. I show up and give you 110%.
Report-writing is not included
If you book me for free facilitation or strategic planning retreat, then you prepare your own follow-up report.
I don’t discount my work. It’s fee or free.
This isn’t wishy-washy. It’s fee or it’s free… no discounts. I believe that my fees are reasonable and fair. I am straight forward and open about my prices. Much of my work is in the non-profit sector and with non-profit trade associations. I understand that budgets are tight. Nonprofit associations are not destitute. Some nonprofit associations pay their association executives in excess of USD $725,000 for their annual salary, plus benefits and retirement stipends. If you represent a nonprofit association, your application must include a complete copy of your most recent IRS Form 990. If you can not afford me, I would be glad to recommend another speaker, facilitator or mentor who is less expensive who may be starting out with less experience and expertise.
How to use your honorarium budget
If you have set aside a small amount of money for an honorarium that is less than my fee and you have booked a free service, my suggestion is that you spend that money on books that you can give to your staff or event participants. That will help to reinforce the work that we are doing together and the participants get to take the message home.
All reasonable expenses are paid by you
I tend to do most of my pro bono work in and around Denver, for the simple reason that it frees up my time to accept paid work on the day before and the day after. I sometimes do out-of-town work for free. If you are booking me for an out-of-town free event, you must still cover my travel (air and ground), accommodation and meals. That means a minimum of a 3-star hotel with strong, reliable internet connection included.
Just because I am working for free does not mean that I will sleep in your guest bedroom. (Yes, I have been asked to do this. The answer is no.)
I have more requests than I do availability. The deal is that an organization can book me one time, and one time only, for a free event. After that, it is time to get a sponsor so you can book me for a full-fee engagement or find someone else who will work for free.
A contract is part of the deal
You will still receive a written contract from me, outlining the terms of our agreement. My agreements are written in plain, simple language that is intended to hold both of us accountable to the terms of the work.Your return contract will be accompanied by your most recently filed IRS Form 990 or its equivalent foreign filing. You may not publish my name/brand associated with your event without a fully-executed contract.
How to book a free event
It all starts with a conversation. I prefer to talk about bookings over the phone, rather than by e-mail. Pick up the phone and call me at 1-303-823-4662.
If you can afford to hire me, please do so!