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Should You Never, Ever Cut Your Fees?
Well, I Did This Time. Here's Why ...
November 6, 2015

Recently I landed my first voice over gig from Pakistan. They found me online and asked me to narrate a video for a new education initiative.

I gave them a quote and they couldn’t afford that rate.

I was about to turn them down, but then I watched the video. It was fascinating!

This program allows instructors to go villages in Pakistan and train people to teach elementary school. Pakistan’s Minister of Education was in the video, as well as many instructors and teachers talking about the importance of this program.

I noticed a couple of interesting things about the video.
  • Some of the people interviewed spoke English and others spoke what I assume is Urdu.
  • In the classroom, males taught males and females taught females.
  • All of the females interviewed had their heads covered, but their faces were exposed except for one. She wore a black burka that covered everything but her eyes and she was the only person whose name was not displayed as a graphic.
After I finished watching the video, I gave them a discount and happily narrated the video.  


Why did I give them a discount? Did I just undermine the integrity of the voice over industry?


Many of my fellow professional voice talents give discounts for a charitable organization or cause they believe in ... voice some pro bono work every year (I do, too) ... or we do it just for fun.

I narrated it because I wanted to be a part of something important.
Over nearly two decades, Tom Dheere has narrated thousands of projects for clients in over a dozen countries and voiced more than 40 audiobooks. He is also a voice over business consultant, coach at Edge Studio, was the marketing consultant for the Voice Over Virtual online conference, and is writing and producing the comic book Agent 1.22 (, which will be released in Summer 2015.


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Comments (14)
Reuven Miller
11/7/2015 at 4:17 PM
The principle of giving back by way of discount is a good one, Tom, and I've followed it myself when the occasion called for it. That said, I'd be interested in knowing whether the video highlighted educational skills or curriculum content; are they being given tools to learn, or (absolutely in context for Pakistan) is it enabling a program of radical Islam? That might very well make a difference.

R. Corson Bremer - it was Pakistan, not India, so the language was definitely not Hindi!
j. valentino
11/7/2015 at 2:48 PM
"Did I just undermine the integrity of the voice over industry? "

If you want to be charitable, you should have done it for free.
I don't understand the point of this article. It seems like it's a confessional.
Amy Weis
11/7/2015 at 11:31 AM
Awesome, Tom! It's not always about the money, or 'what's in it for me'. Using your voice, your gift, to make a difference and to help others is important and very satisfying. Interestingly, when your actions are genuine, you not only help others, but good things come back to you as well.

Thanks for your story!
Howard Ellison
11/7/2015 at 4:22 AM
Sure. When I come to look back on this career I want to feel it offered real worth.
To charities, I would also add the media/arts student - tomorrow's great director perhaps! Vexing to work with, of course, but refreshing.
Darla Middlebrook
11/6/2015 at 8:43 PM
Good for you! I do charity voicing, too, because I want to contribute and it's fun!
Dave Airozo
11/6/2015 at 12:00 PM
Nicely done Tom. Helping the global community out and being a part of something you believe in always has it's rewards.
Guy Harris
11/6/2015 at 11:36 AM
It's your business, it's up to you who you help and who you don't.
J. Christopher Dunn
11/6/2015 at 11:21 AM
Tom- You rock! There are projects where going with your heart and not your head is a good thing. It's ok to feel great about helping an organization like the one you worked with. To those who say your single act of kindness is going to disrupt the VO universe, pfft! (I doubt seriously there will be many who do.)
Elizabeth Holmes
11/6/2015 at 11:14 AM
Bravo Tom! I agree wholeheartedly. Our voices can nudge the world in a better direction. Let's recognize opportunities to do that generously. Fair rates are essential, and in-kind donations benefit everyone involved. Pros know the difference, and can enjoy both without compromise.
11/6/2015 at 11:12 AM
Hi Tom!

I completely agree with you. I have a couple of clients that do important ministry work, helping people and doing very good deeds. These are generally 501C3's and sometimes they struggle to pay the rates it takes to get a good voice talent. Normally, it takes less than an hour to donate my time and talents to something I believe in, when they need help. That generally happens a few times a year, but it's worth it when I go online, pull up their podcasts and hear the promo I donated, and I know it's to help someone out....That's just me, but I believe a huge percentage of the Voice Over community would give of their time and talents for something they believe is for good...
Thanks for sharing that!
Lauren Holladay :)
H. Corson Bremer
11/6/2015 at 10:41 AM
... or Punjabi.
H. Corson Bremer
11/6/2015 at 10:38 AM
... and the language was most probably Hindi (I've done some work for India, too.)
William Cline
11/6/2015 at 10:36 AM
Very inspirational Tom.. Who knows what a difference the work you did would make in someone's life.

H. Corson Bremer
11/6/2015 at 10:36 AM
Now THOSE are the only reasons anyone should discount their rates: causes or fun. In that order. Nice work!
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