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How much should I charge to MC a gala fundraising dinner?
September 12, 2011 1:44 PM   Subscribe

I've been invited to emcee a gala dinner for a nonprofit. They are paying me for my talents, but I don't have anything other than random guesses about how much to charge, and their initial offer was basically "money is no object," which actually make it harder for me. Are there any resources out there that can help me narrow down a range to work from?
posted by yiftach to Work & Money (11 answers total)
 
If you have any ideas about who your competition may be for gigs like this, you may try to find out what they would charge. Some entertainers have contact info on their websites where you can get a link to their agents for this kind of price breakdown.
posted by blurker at 1:48 PM on September 12, 2011


it's a non-profit? Do it for nothing.
posted by tomswift at 2:30 PM on September 12, 2011


Is there any other talent performing for the evening? If so, how would you rate them on the Celebrity Alphabet scale?
posted by bq at 2:39 PM on September 12, 2011


it's a non-profit? Do it for nothing.

I bet the employees of this non-profit aren't working for free, and your talents are as fully deserving of compensation as much as theirs are. Charge them whatever you want.
posted by jayder at 4:10 PM on September 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't disagree with jayder; some non-profit employees enjoy quite handsome salaries. However, if this event is a fundraiser, you'd be very gracious to donate your time in much the way that NPs lean on friends and contacts to donate expensive items to charity raffles. I'm sure they'd be happy to provide recognition of your donation of $XX services for tax purposes. You can go determine $XX at the market rate you deem fit. If the opportunity arises again, they will know how much you cost. Someone with tax experience may want to comment on the details; I'm not an accountant. This seems like a mutually beneficial solution, though.
posted by keasby at 4:32 PM on September 12, 2011


Will your MC work consist of just showing up and being charming, or do you need to prepare an act, obtain (or dry clean) an outfit, rehearse, meet with staff, stay around all night posing for pictures, etc?

Determine how much time they are asking for, and calculate your rate at X/hour for actual performance time, and something like half or 25% of that for anything you do that is not on stage. But you're going to have to determine what your X rate is yourself.
posted by Scram at 4:51 PM on September 12, 2011


Look on foundationcenter.org and you can find the organization's tax records. That will maybe give you some sense of how much they paid for their dinner last year. You should also be able to see how much they pay their top five people and how much they spent on fundraising as a whole.

I also think keasby's suggestion is a good one.
posted by hungrytiger at 5:23 PM on September 12, 2011


A member of my family is a radio disc jockey. When he emcees "location" events, like concerts or auto dealership openings, I believe he gets paid about $300, for 3-4 hours of work. This is in southern California.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:29 PM on September 12, 2011


Some terrific questions and suggestions, friends, thanks (except for "do it for nothing". I didn't really come here to hear that, but thanks for the chuckle).

I won't do it for nothing because my personality, talents and skills (specifically my bi-national background and bilingual fluency) are worth a lot, and, more important, the chair of the board, who invited me to host this event, wants to pay me for my time. This time will include more than the few hours of the event; I will, in fact, be closely involved with prep for the event, including attending planning meetings and even helping determine some content.

blurker: "If you have any ideas about who your competition may be for gigs like this,"

The two people I know of who've emceed similar dinners (for the same org, different chapters) are a Fox News anchor in NY and a very well known TV actor in LA. I'm not in either of their leagues, but will do a better job than either of them because I'm personally connected to the organization's mission. I'm not ONLY doing it for the money.

bq: "Is there any other talent performing for the evening? If so, how would you rate them on the Celebrity Alphabet scale"

None. The other speakers are related to the organization's mission. I'll be pulling the whole thing together. There will be prominent politicians in attendance - local, state, and probably national (congressional) level.

Scram: "Will your MC work consist of just showing up and being charming, or do you need to prepare an act, obtain (or dry clean) an outfit, rehearse, meet with staff, stay around all night posing for pictures, etc?

Determine how much time they are asking for, and calculate your rate at X/hour for actual performance time, and something like half or 25% of that for anything you do that is not on stage. But you're going to have to determine what your X rate is yourself
"

This may end up being marked Best Answer, Scram. I had it suggested to me almost verbatim by a trusted personal source immediately after the invitation materialized, so I've definitely been thinking about things in this vein already. As I noted, I will be participating in prep for the event as well as being all charming the night of.

I'll keep checking in here. I really value your input, thanks!
posted by yiftach at 11:12 PM on September 12, 2011


"chuckle"???? really???

That was an honest suggestion... as the ED of a non-profit it's my hope that when I ask someone to contribute time or services they might consider this.....

But, hey, whatever floats your boat.
posted by tomswift at 7:15 PM on September 14, 2011


I didn't mean to sound as dismissive as I did, tomswift. That said, while I understand your position and while I came into the meeting expecting to do the gig for nothing, they asked for my time and services and in the same breath said they would pay me. I came here for feedback because I don't want to take advantage of the org nor do I want to shortchange myself.
posted by yiftach at 11:26 PM on September 19, 2011


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