The 5 Best Ways to Save Money on School Assembly Programs
$600 to bring a TEEN TRUTH assembly to your school would be a crazy deal, right?
Well, that is exactly where we started. I was making most of the sales calls back then in 2006, and let me tell you, not everyone thought it was a good deal!
For some it was too expensive. After all, they had never heard of us. For others they were too busy. They couldn’t change their class schedule. For many it was too scary. We were focusing on Columbine, and other student issues adults were too afraid to talk about.
But the few who believed helped us launch a movement unlike anything education had ever seen. Now with four award-winning student-shot films, a reach of 9 million people, and a footprint in over 7,000 schools…let’s just say those sales calls are a little easier.
Of course, their hesitation made sense. We all want great programming in our schools, and nobody wants to sacrifice funding on an event that won’t work! The only problem with that hesitation, however, is that fear might be preventing schools from creating vibrant school cultures that empower student voice and invigorate campus climate.
Knowing that cost is a major obstacle for most, I’ve composed this list of The 5 Best Ways to Save Money on School Assembly Programs. Whether it is culture building programs like Rachel’s Challenge and TEEN TRUTH, or the hottest motivational speakers like Houston Kraft and Mike Smith Live, there are ways forward that will work for you!
Generally speaking, educators aren’t exactly business people. And for good reason, you became educators to make an impact! Working in the business world probably runs counter to what is in your heart. As an entrepreneur I have learned the importance of negotiation, and when it comes to booking a school assembly program, you need to learn the same. So many people email off our website, only to hear our cost estimates, and are never to be heard from again. Don’t be afraid to tell your prospective speaker your budget or ask for a discount. Discuss what they will be doing while they are on campus. 3 assemblies and a leadership summit is a lot of work, but maybe 2 assemblies and a 15 minute meeting with your student council is a lot easier on the old voice box. In the last decade, I can tell you we have hardly ever turned down a school due to cost, we do everything we can to make it work. If a speaker won’t work with you on your budget or adjust content to help, it might be time to move on to another speaker.
Share The Day
A little industry secret: most speakers will boast to each other about their rate… $3,000 for this or $5,000 for that, but the truth is you are really just paying for their day out on the road. So work with them to maximize that day. They are going to be away from their friends and family for the same amount of time no matter what they are doing while on your campus. So get smart about their time. We love to share the day with neighboring schools. It is so easy to perform an assembly, drive 5 miles and then do it again. Even better is getting 10 schools together for a district wide leadership summit. If you line up your sister schools to help share the day with you, suddenly a $3,000 assembly cost is maybe $1,000 per school. Or a $4,000 leadership summit is just $400 per school! Utilize this strategy and your kids will get a top-notch program at a fraction of the cost!!
If your budgets are really restricting you from bringing in top national talent… get local! Many educators hear about a $3,000 or $4,000 cost for the day and they roll their eyes, but realize you are paying for that speaker’s time in its totality. That clock starts when they kiss their loved ones good bye, hop in their car, sit in traffic on the way to the airport, get delayed at LAX or JFK, and arrive at their hotel late, only to do it all again when they leave your school. It is a hustle and a hassle. So find out if you have talented speakers in your local area. Can they drive to your school in 30 minutes or less? Ask for a discount or cut down programming to make it easier on them. I would never be able to afford to speak at that original $600 rate now, but if a school in my hometown offered me an assembly on a day when I am already scheduled to be home, I would take it at a discount without blinking an eye. Wouldn’t you?
At TEEN TRUTH we have employed a wide array of speakers, and many of our competitors have as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for a younger speaker that can perform the same program. As the CEO of TEEN TRUTH, with a wife and two kids at home, it can be challenging for me to get out on the road at a cheaper rate, but younger speakers (even A-list speakers like Jared Scott) are hungry, energetic, and driven. They aren’t afraid of jet lag, and are willing to make lower pricing work in order to fill their schedule. Not every school assembly program is like TEEN TRUTH or Rachel’s Challenge. Some are confined to just one speaker, but if you are dealing with an educational services company, see if they have any younger speakers willing to find a way to make it work.
Raising funds can be hard, and applying for grants can be hit or miss, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. We’ve had clients raise funds through local rotary clubs, by selling baked goods at lunch, or finding sponsorship money from companies such as Lifetouch. Sometimes PTA’s and parent foundations will donate as well! I have one client in Chicago that has been dying to bring us to her school, and now, almost 3 years later, she’s finally won the grant money to bring our leadership summit to her campus. The impact we will make will be tremendous, but it her persistence is the reason we will be able to make that impact. You can be persistent too. Set a goal, then work with your admin team and your prospective speaker to make it happen. If you need a home run idea, click here for recent blog from TEEN TRUTH’s Activities Director, Stephen Amundson, in it he lays out a detailed plan for you to raise $1,000’s!
If I can be of help in any way please let me know. We are committed to helping you build school culture, and while cost is sometimes an obstacle, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker — If you feel our school assemblies, leadership summits, or SEL curriculum can help your efforts to empower student voice and build school culture. Give us a call, because we will do everything we can to help make it happen.
JC Pohl, LMFT
President & CEO, TEEN TRUTH