There are no hard and fast rules about honoraria. Professional speakers or those in high demand will often state a price ahead of time, while many others accept invitations simply to speak as colleagues or mentors. In those cases it can be unclear whether payment is necessary. Below are a few scenarios to assist in guiding the process.
- Bringing a Williams alum to campus – most alumni do not expect honoraria. Gracious hosting including a nice meal is usually sufficient.
- Bringing a colleague or associate to campus for a class visit or a meeting with students. You might consider $200-300 as a modest gesture of appreciation.
- Bringing an academic speaker who is well-published and has notoriety in their field may warrant a slightly higher honorarium. You might offer $500 or ask if they have a standard fee.
- Asking a speaker to engage in multiple activities on campus (public talk, class visit, faculty/staff dinner). You would typically elevate the honorarium accordingly. Be sure the speaker knows what is expected of them before you agree on a fee.
- Speaker agencies. Prominent speakers will often be represented by agents. The agency will set the fee, though it is often possible to negotiate it down. The fee may also be dependent on the speaker’s level of engagement on campus. All desired events must be negotiated in advance. You should work with someone authorized to sign contracts at this point.*
It is typical to pay for (or reimburse) speaker travel and lodging for all events, whether you are paying an honorarium or not. You should also plan to cover meals. Please note that the payment of honoraria or speaker fees always requires a W-9 form, which should be filed through the Secure Tax Form Submission process.