You wouldn’t expect a plumber to come to your house and fix your bathroom for free. Nor would you expect to go into a restaurant, be served excellent food — and then pay nothing.

But this is exactly what happens when artists, designers, writers – and yes, event planners – are asked to work without pay.

You may have seen graphic designer and artist Dan Cassaro’s reply to the Showtime television network after it had asked him to work for free.

Cassaro is a talented New York artist whose work has been recognized nationally. The email from Showtime begins by complimenting his work…then asks him to submit a design (without pay) for a chance to win a free trip to Las Vegas.

“The whole thing is just unethical,” Cassaro told Buzzfeed. “You would never cold call a bunch of licensed electricians and ask them to do the lighting for an event like this for free. You certainly wouldn’t ask them to hashtag their ‘submission’ on Twitter to drive traffic to your website. To call it a contest is a bit insulting. A contest is guessing how many jellybeans are in the jar so you can win all the jellybeans. … To participate in a contest like this as a working professional devalues the work of everyone.”

You can read Showtime’s email and his response here.

After seeing Cassaro’s post, we felt compelled to address the issue of free event-planning services and why we so rarely provide them.

The simple truth is that it all comes down to finances. Event planning is how we make our living. We simply cannot afford to provide too much unpaid work if we want to survive as a small business. We donate a significant amount of philanthropic services already. It’s crucial that we keep such donations at a manageable level in order to ensure we’re still available for our current clients – and that we’re still around for our future clients.


At Red Velvet Events, we know giving back to the community is important. That’s why each month our staff volunteers their time at a worthy non-profit in the Austin area.

RVE assists local public non-profit organizations through in-kind donations of services and custom gift baskets. We have established guidelines to follow when considering eligible organizations due to the frequency of such requests. Please also note that RVE favors organizations that advocate in the interests of children and education, and that are focused on the Greater Austin area.

Read more about our donation policy.