When it comes to wild game dinner speakers and their fee, it’s a bit of a moving target. Trust me when I tell you that you can pay $3000 for wild game dinner speakers, but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to improve the quality of your wild game dinner, nor does it mean your speaker is going to do a super job.
Why? It’s simply because some wild game dinner speakers, because of their accomplishments and their resume, have a higher “market value.”
Look, I know that sort of language makes you uncomfortable. I get it. It makes me feel weird too. And it should, but naming a price isn’t evil. It’s all about motives. If it’s all about money, that’s toxic on many levels.
You know what is also toxic? Thinking money is evil. Money isn’t evil. Loving money is the root of evil said Jesus.
You have to think about money on both ends. As a speaker, and as the church hosting the wild game dinner.
The Worst Speaking Fee Ever Created.
The hardest speaking fee, the worst one I ever set, was the first one!! It wasn’t the fee itself. It was in trying to land on what was fair. It was psychologically strange for me.
Back in those days when I first started, churches were looking for wild game dinner speakers like crazy. The Internet was trending in footprint and finding wild game dinner speakers for your wild game dinner, or men’s ministry event, wasn’t necessarily that easy.
My problem was, as a speaker, I was being taken advantage of – on occasion – by churches looking for a speaker. Actually it wasn’t the church, it was the event coordinators in most cases.
I understood why. Hey I’d been in their shoes. Most churches, pathetically, do not have a men’s ministry budget. So, event coordinators are left with big dreams for God, that have no funding to fulfill them. So, in terms of finding a speaker, they were just looking for a freebie or something close to it.
Yep. It’s true. It was not happening that often, but it was happening.
I’ve always found it interesting that some churches, in the name of “faithful stewardship” are often willing to short-change a speaker to benefit their body, and yet be poor stewards of his family, which a part of the body of Christ, too. More on how to avoid that later.
Back to the hardest fee I ever set.
Churches would book me for a wild game dinner, and by saying “yes” to them, I was by default saying “no” to (3) other churches wanting that same weekend in February. See, in the first few months of the year is when many churches host their event. So my speaking dates for January through March often book up a year ahead of time.
I’d say 30% of the time, churches would cancel due to poor turnout on ticket sales, the pastor wanting to arbitrarily move the date, inclement weather, or because the event planner didn’t realize that they’d double booked a church event in the family life center. Cancellations weren’t common, but it would happen often enough that something had to change.
Then there was the love offering issue. In the early years I’d have churches constantly say “we will pay all your travel, but it’s a love offering for the speaking fee.” I quickly found out that there was a whole lotta love … but not much offering.
Either way, I was getting hammered because I was blessed by having a lot of bookings, but in the end I’d spoken at (12) events from January to March, but only cleared $2400 for 3 months of really hard work.
So, I set my first wild game dinner speaking fee.
It was $250 plus travel!! Big risk taker was I.
The hard part was in wondering if that $250 was way too low or fair. Making a hard, no compromise decision that I had a “fee” was spiritually weird for me, but I had to tighten things up.
That fee lasted less than a year. It quickly became apparent that I needed to raise that cost. My time was valuable and more was happening in the industry that allowed me to have support behind my name.
Two Brutal Truths About Wild Game Dinner Speakers
Truth 1: Every tangible thing on this earth has a market value. Chewing gum, running shoes, shotguns, computers for your church office, gas for your truck, and coffee cups all have a “price.” And that’s ok.
Your very own job has a value too. You work in the private sector. Your job has monetary worth. So don’t misapply that simple reality when it comes to finding a speaker. He has a market value too. Just make sure it’s not inflated.
Truth 2: Be far more concerned that your speaker is a solid speaker instead of looking merely at the price. Seriously … I know speakers that charge $3500 or more, but I’d not recommend them to you for a host of reasons. Then there are guys I know who charge $750 that are just awesome.
And here’s my point: make sure your speaker connects with hunters. Make sure he’s not preachy. Make sure he’s qualified.
This is a video that touches on some of this – but watch that later. Read the rest of this post first because it covers different insights into speaking.
Now let’s move to landing on a cost your church can handle.
Ask these questions.
How much can our event budget absorb?
Truthfully, how you answer that is going to set the tone for everything in terms of booking wild game dinner speakers.
How do we want to tackle the issue of travel expenses?
Always remember that travel costs are not, nor should not, be included the compensation fee. It makes a speaker’s tax structure get funky. Set the fee, and know that travel is an extra cost to cover.
While we are on the topic of travel, let then speaker handle every aspect of his travel.
Please. Please take me seriously here.
You have one event, he has 15 in a row. In fact, 95% of the time, I’ll fly in, speak at the event, then drive back to the airport if at all possible to get 6am flight home. Why? Because next Saturday I’m away from my family again and that stacks up. So I try and keep my absences to a minimum.
Also, and trust me when I say this, your church members don’t really love having strangers in their home, but they say yes because a staff member asked for the courtesy. Tossing wild game dinner speakers into congregational homes is so common, but it’s not cool.
Be really careful before you ask a church member to let someone stay in their home. It’s not fun for the speaker, or the hosts, and you are only saving an $89 hotel fee.
Yet the real reason you want him to handle his travel: it’s one hassle you can so easily avoid. As an event planner, this is trivial in comparison to the big picture.
Is the speaker known for being good at his craft and calling?
It is not uncommon for wild game dinner speakers to host a TV or radio show, but that means absolutely nothing in terms of sharing the gospel effectively. Does he have a reputation for quality communication skills? That’s what I’d want to know. A good resume within the industry only compliments that key ingredient.
What do other churches typically pay?
Like it or not, that’s a factor. I’ve been told more than once by church that I need to raise my fee because they typically pay more for a speaker, and then there are churches that have a set amount every year and that’s it. Take it or leave it. Either way, it’s called a “market rate” and if you think that doesn’t apply to your event, then go to someone who serves on the church’s personnel committee and ask them what they do when they have to fill a staff position.
I’ll save you the time. They contact their denominational headquarters and ask for a compensation analysis – every major denomination has them on file or even online, as in the case of the Southern Baptist Convention. You can even break down the SBC’s compensation research by state and staff position! Which tells you, yes, there is a market rate for measuring compensation.
Who are wild game dinner speakers best at reaching?
Look, you don’t want me speaking to a room full of bass fisherman. I grew up bass fishing. That does NOT mean I’m in their tribe! You need a guy like Chris Wells for that. He’s called to bass anglers.
If you’re trying to reach hunters, don’t bring in some dude who is a local duck guide when your county is mainly full of whitetail hunters!!! See what I mean?
A Starting Point.
The “market” for wild game dinner speakers looks like this:
$5000 high end – $500 low end
That’s a huge gap. However, my almost 20 years experience in this “speakers world” has proven that range to be a solid, street-level metric of measurement.
As a general rule for what to expect to offer a speaker, never offer less than $600 + plus expenses.
I’d say that’s actually far too low, but that’s my opinion.
And get a contract.
Yes. A contract. Always.
It makes everything clear for everyone.
Hopefully this helps you make sense of navigating the speaking world.
And, seriously, thank you for efforts in reaching hunters. These guys are most likely never encountering the gospel unless you go after them.
Jason Cruise is a published author and the host of Spring Chronicles on Sportsman Channel.