Black Tie Optional by Harry A Freedman and Karen FeldmanIn their book, ‘Black Tie Optional,’ Harry A. Freedman and Karen Feldman explain how to use celebrities to help raise money for your cause…

“If the group can afford to bring in a star, the next step is to decide if the time, energy, and trouble involved will pay off in the form of substantially more people attending the event and, presumably, donating more money. In most cases, the answer is yes, especially for first-time events or those competing with many others for attention.

The next step is to figure out what star will best suit the event. There are all sorts of celebrities – local sports stars and media personalities, politicians, chefs, artists, actors, authors, directors, singers, dancers. Obviously, it’s easier to get local figures to appear at an event in their hometown, an also far less expensive because there will be no airfare or lodging required. However, those who want a national or international star should think about the nature of the event and whether the person they are considering fits the occasion and overall mission.

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Besides the appropriateness of the celebrity, how much the group can afford to pay will be a primary limiting factor. An entertainment budget of $3,000 will not buy megastars such as Jennifer Lopez or Kanye West. If the event is a sports celebrity auction, for example, a modest budget may allow for the appearance of a local sports or media personality to serve as auctioneer. Then ask various sporting goods stores or teams for donations of jerseys, hats, balls, tickets, and so on. More and more local celebrities, including sports figures, command fees as much as $10,000 for appearances, autograph signings, and endorsements.

Musical acts, such as Itzhak Perlman or Bernadette Peters, can cost from $55,000 to $200,000 (add $5,000 or more for the travel expenses of staff and key musicians). Comedians such as Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock, and Ellen DeGeneres can cost within the same range, but with lower staff travel expenses. For stars such as Donald Trump, Jerry Seinfeld, or Oprah Winfrey, the figures climb exponentially.

For groups hoping to bring in more than one celebrity with a tight entertainment budget, try to negotiate a ‘favored nations’ clause. (A job for a lawyer). This clause ensures that if two or more stars appear, all are treated equally. They are paid the same amount, and they get the same accommodations, amenities, and billing. Sometimes the group can negotiate a lower fee because the celebrities want to work together, or because it’s a cause they support or they view it as good exposure for them.

TIP: The organization can save money if someone else has already hired the star and provided transportation. If the star must stay longer for the group’s event, the organization will then only be responsible for additional hotel expenses and possibly airfare home.”

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