Bringing a Speaker to Campus

To begin with, start keeping a notebook where you will write down all pertinent information, dates, phone numbers, etc related to the speaker or event. Recruit several people to help out with the planning process. It can become overwhelming at times and there are a million things to do and remember so it’s good to have some people that you know you can depend upon.

1.    Contact your desired speaker, find out their honorarium and find a date that works for their visit.
        a.    Write up a contract detailing date, honorarium and expenses and to whom the speaker will want the honorarium addressed (sometimes it is personal, sometimes it is their organization). Sign it, and have the speaker sign it. Make sure to keep a copy. This is useful later on and is an important step to make sure that all parties understand what GROW or Amherst is paying for and what it is not.
        b.    Have your speaker fill out a W-9 form! This details the tax information of whichever group or person will be receiving payment (this is why it’s important to establish to whom the check will be made out). If you will be writing separate checks for honorarium and travel expenses (if, for instance, the honorarium goes to an organization, and the hotel reimbursement to the speaker, him/herself) make sure you have both W-9s filled out.  These have to be original documents so make sure that you do this early enough that the speaker can MAIL it to you, NOT email/fax it. This is critical because to pay them out of any school account (aka the GROW account or another club account), the school must have their current tax information. This will be sent in to the Comptroller later on with the request to disburse funds.

2.    Reserving a room for the event. Contact Paula Mieczkowski to reserve a room on campus. Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115), Paino Lecture Hall (in the Earth Sciences Building) are good for small to medium sized events. If you think the speaker will draw a huge crowd, try the Cole Assembly Room (the red room) in Converse or Johnson Chapel.

3.    If your speaker will need A/V equipment (powerpoint, projector, microphone, etc), email Jon Kunhardt TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE EVENT to make sure that the A/V cabinet will be unlocked that someone in the group can be trained to operate all the equipment ahead of time. It is absolutely crucial that you notify him two weeks early, as they are very strict about it.

4.    FUNDING. This is the biggest task and should be begun as early as possible. This is a useful site to read through before starting the money-getting process:
        a.    Start by finding out exactly what your speaker will need. Do they need transportation? A hotel room? Meals? Are these included in the honorarium?
        b.    Put together a budget. It doesn’t need to be complex but should include honorarium, travel expenses, hotel bill, etc for the speaker, refreshments at the event (prices for catering from Val can be found at and any other necessary miscellaneous expenses.
        c.    Write a form letter soliciting funds. . This letter should outline the speaker, their organization, and why the event is going to be beneficial to the group and the larger Amherst/Five College community and should ask the recipient to donate as much as they possibly can towards the total cost of the event. Email this letter with the attached simple budget (so that people can see that the final number we are asking for didn’t come out of nowhere) to departments on campus that might have some relation to the event. Recipients don’t only need to be department chairs - any member of the faculty can bring up using department money for an event, so if you think a certain professor might be more sympathetic to the event than the chair, send them the letter as well.
                i.    Possible sources of funding:
                        •    President Marx ( and his secretary Elizabeth Chaisson
                        •    Hannah Fatemi, Director of the Keefe Campus Center/Student Activities
                        •    Any deans that may be interested in the event
                        •    Religious Life if the event pertains
                        •    Schwemm’s Fund – Paul Sorrentino
                        •    CCE
                        •    Relevant Five College Departments
                        •    Professors also have the ability to help you request funds from the Lecture Fund. This is usually reserved for really expensive honorariums, so if you are facing a big number, try to find a professor that would be willing to help you navigate getting money from the bigger lecture funds.
        d.    Once you start receiving replies from various departments and offices, be prompt about replying and thanking them. If they offer to give money, give them the GROW account number to deposit their contributions (speak to a chair of the club about getting this number).
        e.    Submit a request to the AAS to get money. The online form for the BC must be filled out by Wednesday at noon for Thursday’s meeting. Go to the BC meeting on Thursday night. Make sure to mention that you have gotten money from other sources before going to the BC - they want to see that they are not the only ones giving money and that you have explored all alternate sources of funding. If they give you money, go to the AAS senate meeting on Monday to make sure that they approve the request. Bring homework - these meetings can be long.
        f.    If the AAS give syou money, print out and have your speaker sign an AAS contract (called a “Contract for Services”), which can be found at The contract can be faxed back and forth. Once it has been signed by both parites, submit it to the BC. The speaker will be paid after the event has taken place.
        g.    Once you get all the money you need (congratulations!) and have waited a week or two to make sure that the money has been deposited into the account (this is why the funding process must start early!) you can fill out an honorarium form (“Request for Payment of Services”), which can be found at The chair of the club needs to sign this form to authorize payment out of the club account. Attach to the request the speaker’s W-9 and a photocopy of the contract that you drew up at the beginning of the process. Specify to whom the check should be made out on the form. You can drop these off at the comptroller’s office about a week before the event or even the day after the event since checks do not get sent out until after the event has taken place.

5.    Refreshments. Speak to catering at Val FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE EVENT to order food. Make sure that they will deliver and set up the refreshments with a table and utensils.

6.    The Event.
        a.    Figure out whether you are taking the speaker out for dinner. If you are, you should have included money to pay for their meal in the original budget. Reserve a table at a restaurant and invite a few people to eat with the speaker.
        b.    Make sure that you have a bottle of water on the podium for the speaker.
        c.    Make sure that all the A/V equipment is set up and working. I would suggest getting to the room 45 minutes early if the speaker will be using powerpoint or their computer. The system can be very temperamental and you want to make sure you have time to deal with connecting their computer or uploading files onto the classroom computer. In fact, you may want to have the speaker give you their powerpoint presentation earlier (on CD or by email) so that you can have it uploaded even earlier.

Good luck!