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HOW TO HIRE A GREAT SPEAKER ON A SMALL BUDGET: 5 SIMPLE STRATEGIES

(Ideas adapted from an article by www.topyouthspeakers.com)
Dear Impact Maker,

As a trusted leader, you undoubtedly feel responsible to provide your staff, students or organization with the motivation and tools they need to succeed. But budget constraints often block many in your position from being able to book the kind of dynamic speaker you’d feel confident in - one that can deliver genuine, life-changing, transformational results for your audience. Let’s face it, GREAT speakers don’t come cheap. You want to hire the best. After all, the well-being of your audience (and your reputation) is at stake. GOOD NEWS...we have some simple tips on how you can hire a great speaker on a small budget. Below, you’ll discover simple, tried-and-true strategies for securing the money you need for the kind of speaker your staff will love and praise you for.

STRATEGY #1 - “SPLIT THE BILL”

The Idea: Share the speaker with another school or organization in your community on the same day.

How It Works: Let’s say the speaker you’re interested in charges $2,000 for a presentation. Most speakers would jump at the chance to speak to an additional audience in the same area on the same day. Why? Because it means they get to speak to a larger audience without putting in more travel. By teaming up with another organization to bring in the speaker, you cut your portion in half. Your school can take the speaker for a ½ in-service in the morning and the speaker can travel to another school in the afternoon. A $2000 fee becomes just became $1000! Net result: Awesome value for both schools and for the speaker. Plus, a larger impact for your community. Bonus!

What to Do Next: Reach out to another school or organization in your area via email.

Sample Letter for This Strategy:

Hi [enter name], I’m hoping to bring this fantastic speaker to our school. Here’s their website: [insert speaker website]. We’ve been intentional about addressing [insert challenge, hope, or goal]. This speaker [insert name of speaker] has a powerful message and proven track record. Wouldn’t it be great to make a serious dent in the issue and use this event as a catalyst to drive change? If we split the cost of the speaker, it will be [insert price] 2 | Page each school. I’d love to get moving on this right away, so let me know if you’re interested! Excited to join forces and help both our schools and the community.

STRATEGY #2 - “CHECK THE COUCH CUSHIONS”

The Idea: Get the financial resources you need from the school resources you already have.

How It Works: There are funds “hidden” in your current school structures (ex: ASB accounts, Title VI funds, Title I funds, curriculum budgets, etc..) just waiting to be dug up and put to good use.

How to do it: It’s not complicated, but it will take a little investigating (flipping over some couch cushions). Here’s some examples of where to look:
  • Check with your school administration about resources in the Associated Student Body fund, District Funds, etc.
  • Ask them about Title VI, Title I funding or Career and Technical Education- Perkins Funding.
  • Find out if there are curriculum budgets (if, for example, the speaker has a book or follow-up curriculum that would directly benefit your students).
  • Contact your school’s PTO or PTA and share your plans with them - let your enthusiasm be contagious!
  • Invite multiple clubs on campus to participate and help in a fund-raising project. Plus, a collaborative project like this will help students learn some of the realworld time and effort it takes to make a dream happen.
Net result: The entire school - from administration to student body - has a chance to rally around the goal, bringing unity through common purpose and lessons in cooperative effort.

STRATEGY #3 - “ASK UNCLE SAM OR FOUNDATIONS”

The Idea: Get the federal government or Foundations to offset the cost of (or completely cover the cost of) your speaker’s fee.

How It Works: Each year, the federal government and foundations distribute millions of dollars to schools in order to support programs and events benefitting students.

How to do it: Integrate the speaker into an important theme such as cultural awareness week, health day, Red Ribbon Week, Bully Prevention Month, Teacher-Inservice, etc. Depending on your theme, federal grant or foundation money might be available. Alternatively, you could contact local organizations that have already secured grant money and ask for their help. For example, the Criminal Justice Department or Department of Public Safety might have funds allocated for mental health efforts or youth-mentoring programs. Look at your local Council of Governments (COG’s) as well. They’re looking for partners just like you. If your district has a grant writer, this is best resource to call. Also, connect with private foundations such as bank foundations, educational foundations, and private foundations which a focus on youth development. 3 | Page Simply google “foundations in [closest large city]” and read about the areas of interest they fund.

Net result: You get the speaker you want while making great use of money the government and foundations want you to use!

STRATEGY #4 - “KNOCK ON YOUR NEIGHBOR’S DOOR”

The Idea: Your local businesses and civic organizations want their names associated with success, and you’re just the person to connect the dots.

How It Works: The Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, local “mom and pop” businesses, and all kinds of “neighbors” want to bolster their good standing in the community by supporting local schools.

How to do it: You and your student leaders contact local business organizations: Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Lions Club, Elks, Chamber of Commerce, Foundations, State Farm, family owned restaurants, you name it. Present your idea of how you can help make them look good by having them sponsor your speaker. If they are willing to participate, you can feature them as the title sponsor, incorporate them into any materials, feature their products, hang a banner thanking them outside your school, etc.

Net result: Both your school and local businesses and/or organizations win.

What to do Next: Identify 4-6 local business organizations who could support your efforts.
  • Step 1: Customize the email template we’ve provided below to woo them over.
  • Step 2: Follow up with a phone call or handwritten letter.
  • Step 3: Visit them in person if possible. Remember: you’re building a relationship, not just asking for money.
Sample Letter for This Strategy:

Hi [enter name],

We’ve been intentional about addressing [insert challenge, hope, or goal] at [school name or district name]. I’m hoping to bring this fantastic speaker, [name of speaker and website link] to our community. I heard about [speaker’s name] through [contact’s name] or I saw this speaker at [insert event]. [insert name of speaker] has a powerful message and proven track record. Wouldn’t it be great to make a serious dent in the issue and use this event as a catalyst to drive change? Would you consider making an investment in our students and help us make this happen? Excited to join forces and help our school and community.

I will call you on [day], to set up a meeting to discuss this further. Look forward to our conversation.

STRATEGY #5 - “BEAM THE SPEAKER IN!”

The Big Idea: Rather than presenting in person, ask the speaker to pre-record a presentation customized for your audience.

How It Works: This option is very walletfriendly and allows your audience to hear from a great speaker on a shoe-string budget.

Net result: Your school saves a bunch of cash while your staff and students get to hear an entertaining, create a life changing message.
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