“Baby, you’re worth it!” Assessing Your Rate to Honour the Field
There is an old song by Fifth Harmony with the lyrics, “baby you’re worth it”. You can find it here.
I like the opening lines (not sure of the rest of the song’s lyrics which are pretty suggestive). The title however sums up what I want to talk about today. I think most of us are undervaluing ourselves as facilitators. And clients are not also valuing us, because they do not understand our situation. We provide an invaluable skill that few people have. The job requires us to have the utmost creativity, patience, authenticity, patience, tools, design sense, compassion, timing, flow. This list goes on and on. It takes decades to refine the skills of a process facilitator. If you’ve been facilitating for more than 5-10 years, what are you charging?
The Bottom Line
I’m not going to waste your time, nor keep going on and on about all the details just yet. You can keep reading for the explanation and math after this first paragraph if you want to. Bottom line: In 2023, if you’re facilitating as an independent entrepreneur, in Europe or North America, you might consider charging the equivalent of $250 USD an hour or $4000 USD a day. The daily rate includes your prep and follow up time as well. Ultimately, if you think about what lawyers, accountants, project managers and doctors are paid, our skills as process facilitators (not trainers) are just as valuable, benefit more people at a time and have a greater impact on the world population.
I am quoting all my figures in US or Canadian dollars. But if you persist with the math and know what you need to earn for a decent living in your country, I think you can make the currency changes to your own situation. Also, of course it is fine to volunteer or undercharge for some groups when you can. In fact, that is good.
The Reasoning and Math
- A good facilitator can only assist 3 to 6 clients at any given time. More than that and it is too hard to track all the details.
- You should take no more than six to eight delivery days a month.
- Every delivery day will require a minimum of 2 prep and follow up days.
Math: 8 delivery days plus 16 prep days per month= 24 days.
- Delivery days are typically about 12 hours versus eight hours meaning you’re really working an extra four days a month so that’s 28 days per month
- Most people work only 21.5 days per month. That means you’re working all the time if you have 8 delivery days.
Now, if we are more realistic and only take an average of six delivery days per month, what must we charge?
- Imagine you want to earn an average salary of $110,000 USD NET per year.
- That means you must earn at least twice that at $220,000 GROSS/year or $18k/month.
- Remember your costs are high! You pay an accountant, bookkeeper, webmaster, virtual tools and platforms, conferences, travel, professional development, office space, tools, etc.
- Since you can only fit in 6 delivery days per month plus prep and follow-up, you have to charge at least $3000 per delivery day as an entrepreneur.
- Most of us cannot guarantee 6 delivery days a month. We might be able to average 4 delivery days per month for 11 months because we need at least a month off a year for vacation, attending conferences and skill development days, etc. We also need time to market ourselves, do accounting, support and mentor other colleagues, volunteer for our various facilitator organizations to keep the profession fresh, and more.
Thus I recommend $4000/delivery day in North America.
A Few More Sobering Calculations
- I suspect many of you are only charging $1500 – $2000 a day, that means you likely only earning $8000 gross per month. After your expenses, which typically might be as high as 50% of your gross income, you would only be earning $4000 net a month for 11 months. That would be the equivalent of $44K a year.
- The national annual wage of a lawyer in North America is $144,000. The average annual salary for all jobs in the US is about $52,000 a year. That would mean that we facilitators make less than the national US average.
- I am looking up other average salaries. I find project managers in Canada earning a wage of typically over $100,000. I even found an average yearly salary for facilitators in Canada. It ranged from $55,000 – $112,000 Canadian per year in various cities and with various agencies. And that was for learning facilitators who often deliver the same training over and over again and thus are able to reduce their prep time. It suggests that most salaried facilitators are underpaid also.
Have I convinced you?
Do you need any more convincing as facilitator entrepreneurs? As a client, have I convinced you that you need to pay more?
- You need to charge more and clients need to pay more. We facilitators are brought in only for very special problematic situations that few can solve on their own. We take huge amounts of care and preparation to understand your context, meet your people ahead of time, prepare the space, prepare the tools, design an event that takes every ounce of our attention, patience and skill. At the end of it, if you the client help provide the right preparation, mindset and ambience for participants, nothing will ever be the same.
We are worth it. Baby, we are worth it!
Side note: As most of you know, I am almost retired. I don’t care how much I make now. But I do care to help my wonderful colleagues stay in the profession and be well paid for the effort and respect they offer to some of the world’s most pressing dilemmas.
A little bit about the song:
Salary: Group Facilitator (December, 2022) | Glassdoor (this is even less than another article I referred to above – I just cannot find it now! However this internal pay scale is depressing and terrible in my humble opinion)
Previous related blogs:
Facilitator Economics: Your Top Money Questions Answered – North Star Facilitators (I wrote this at least 7 years ago)