Dr. Sarah Eaton

Professor, Author and Researcher

Dr. Sarah Eaton - Professor, Author and Researcher

Speaking for free

Speaking, educating, facilitating and research 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:

“Free” doesn’t mean “Scot free”

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.

Clients must qualify

I offer my services for free to non-profit, government and educational organizations. I have a particular soft spot for libraries. I don’t 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 1-403-244-9015 or e-mail me and ask.

Book sales are allowed

You let me sell my books and product at the back of the room, and you recruit some volunteers to help me. In return, volunteers get to choose two books each to take home with them.

If your group has a strict policy against back-of-the room sales, then you do not qualify for a free speech from me, but you are welcome to book me for a full-fee engagement.

If full-fee clients request that I do not sell books at the back of the room, I respect that request because, well, they’ve paid full price for the service.

Videotaping is allowed

I am in the process of updating the videos for my website and YouTube channel. If I do a free event for you, I get to tape it and use parts or all of it for 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.

References and referrals

If you are happy with the work I do for you, then you 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.

Cancellation policy: Paid work trumps free work

If I get full-paying work, 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 are better off not contracting me. Re-arrange your budget, look for grant money, or seek some other funding to bring me in.

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 about 40% to 50% of the time. Sometimes it can take up to a year to get a pro bono job 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, then I suggest booking me for a virtual keynote or webinar, which is less expensive than having me come to speak to your group in person.

Exceptions to the cancellation policy

If you bring me in to keynote an event for an audience of more than 250 people, you can consider it a firm booking. Speaking to large audiences is my idea of a really good time.

Take note of the terms above that says I’ll be allowed to sell books and that you will take the responsibility of finding volunteers to help me. A reference letter, referrals and allowing me to video-tape the event are also part of the deal.

Quality assurance

I do all the same prep work 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 work, 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. Contact me if you want to book me for a paid speaking engagement. Much of my work is in the non-profit sector and with non-profit associations. I understand that budgets are tight.

I also spent years living under the poverty line, being raised by a single mother. I now do a lot of work with organizations that help people raise their literacy and education levels in order to earn a decent living. I feel that it is incumbent upon us to lead by example.

If you can not afford me, I would be glad to recommend another speaker, facilitator or mentor who is less expensive.

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 or product sales 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.

Expenses are paid by you

I tend to do most of my pro bono work in and around Calgary, 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 job, you must still cover my travel (air and ground), accommodation and meals. That means a minimum of a 4-star hotel and decent food to eat. I like a warm, clean bed and nutritious food.

Just because I am working for free does not mean that I will sleep in a tent in your back yard. (Yes, I have been asked to do this. The answer is no.)

One-time offer

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.

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 (unless you are in a time zone far, far away).

Pick up the phone and call me at 1-403-244-9015.

If you can afford to hire me, please do so!