Jan 01

Eleven ways to make money in 2011. #11: sperm and opinions

There’s cash to be had from working on a film set, Extras-style. Or get paid to air your views. And don’t forget sperm donation


Sperm donation

If you’re a chap and saw the recent US comedy movie The Kids Are All Right, your ears may well have pricked up (so to speak) at the scene where the sperm-donor dad, Paul (played by Mark Ruffalo), is quizzed by his biological son about how much he was paid for his services to reproduction.

“I got paid $60 [£38] a pop,” Paul replies – quite an impressive amount, some might think, bearing in mind it was presumably almost 20 years ago that he locked himself in that clinic toilet. In the film, Paul’s biological son and daughter are now 15 and 18 respectively.

So how much can a Brit male make from sperm donation in 2011?

The bad news is, you won’t officially be paid anything – men cannot be paid for donating sperm. The good news is, you can be compensated for “loss of earnings”. The amount you can claim depends on how long it all takes, though there is an overall limit of £250 for each course of sperm donation (you will be making several visits). “You will have to show that you have lost earnings in the time you spent donating,” says the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

You can also claim for “reasonable out-of pocket expenses”, such as travel and childcare costs, though you will need receipts. It is possible these payments could be increased in future; the HFEA is starting a public consultation this month. There is a shortage of sperm donors in the UK, not helped, some would say, by the removal of anonymity six years ago. This means people born from donations have the right to ask for their donor’s identity when they reach 18. However, donors have no legal, financial or social obligations to their biological children.

You need to be between 18 and 45 (there is an age limit of 40 at some clinics), and, before you donate, you need to undergo some screening tests to reduce the risks of passing on diseases or deformities. “Your clinic will advise you how many times they would like you to attend to donate – it may be up to two or three times a week for anything up to four months,” says the National Gamete Donation Trust, a government-funded charity.


Work as an extra

Fancy seeing yourself up on the big screen in Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming 3D movie Hugo Cabret, or bagging a walk-on role in one of those glossy British television crime dramas? Could you be the face of a new advertising campaign for a price-comparison website? Perhaps you wouldn’t even mind posing as a market trader for a photoshoot to promote a new arthritis drug.

These are just a few of the jobs recently being advertised on Uni-versal Extras (, an agency specialising in providing extras and “background artists” for films, TV, music videos and commercials. The company mainly targets students but is also looking for older people.

Wayne Berko, the company director, says earnings will depend on the type of production. He adds that the basic rate for many feature films and BBC/ITV productions is £96 a day, while for a music video or commercial you might be looking at £90 a day. For more prestigious jobs, it is possible the rates may be higher.

Meanwhile,, which claims to be the UK’s biggest online directory of performing talent, says on its site that “current rates range from £60 to £80 per day. Overtime, if applicable, is paid at approximately £10 per hour. These rates may vary. You should ask the casting director before agreeing to work.”

The student section of Uni-versal Extras website states that “no skills are needed other than enthusiasm and professionalism … you could get paid for sitting around.”

Berko says: “If you’re someone who doesn’t mind getting up early and wants to be part of this kind of industry, it’s an easy way of making some money. Every job is very different.”

Current or recent films that people who have registered with his firm have appeared in include the latest Harry Potter epic, Clash of the Titans, The Wolfman and the forthcoming movie, The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth. Perhaps the most eye-catching job advertised on Berko’s site is a photoshoot for an anti-smoking charity advert: “We are looking for a female to pose with a face painted on her bum – the face will be smoking a cigarette.”


Market research and surveys

If you’ve got strong opinions, why not get paid for airing them by signing up with a market research recruitment firm such as Saros? It says all its respondents are members of the public, who are financially rewarded – typically you get £30 to £100 for two hours’ work – for giving up their time and sharing their views in discussion groups, or taking part in interviews or testing.

“Typical payments are from £30 for a 90-minute consumer discussion group, but we have had longer studies offering payments of hundreds of pounds. Payment is usually made in cash at the end of the session (perhaps in staged amounts for longer projects),” the firm adds.

There are also lots of companies offering people the chance to earn small sums by filling in online surveys. On her MoneyMagpie website, Jasmine Birtles warns that there are many “sharks” in this business, and lists her top 12 online survey sites, which include OnePoll (5p to £1 a survey), Surveyhead and For more information go to Read full article.



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