Monday, May 30, 2011

Volunteering for Fun & Non-Profit Addendum

On May 16 I wrote a post about volunteering as a way to market your business. I received an query from a reader on another forum as to what to do when the non-profit client benefitting from your donation of services has endless changes and extra requests. Good question! This is a bit stickier than with a paying client, because you can't exactly add on an upcharge as you would if there was money involved. Here's how I responded:

When It Looks like the Karma is Going Sideways
Sometimes, in spite of all your explanations about the limitations of your donation as set forth in your proposal, you’ll be faced with the expectation that you will keep plugging away at the project until “everyone is happy with it.” When that occurs, you can do one of two things.
You can call a come-to-Jesus meeting and refer the client to your original agreement, reminding them that an offer of donated services is not the same thing as indentured slavery. Your proposal notwithstanding, because they are so devoted to their cause, they may have no idea that they are making unreasonable demands. This is another opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and train your non-profit how to be a good client. Whether this is possible depends on the individual circumstances.  
The other alternative is to look at the repercussions of bailing vs. sucking it up and finishing the project. It could be that the PR fallout from not finishing might be worse than not having done the project at all. Either way, this situation requires a judgment call on your part. Since all situations are different, you will have to decide what it is worth to you, whether you draw a hard line or see it through to the end.
Recently I was faced with this situation, and decided to suck it up and finish. I was quite sure the intention was not to wring every possible drop of free work out of me. It was rather the result of inexperience on the part of the client and their trust in me to help them get what they needed. I also saw an excellent opportunity to have my halo polished publically by some very happy campers. I ended up spending twice as much effort on the project as I had intended, but the result turned out to be one of the best logos I have ever done. Needless to say, I have put it in all my online portfolios and in a design competitions. Hopefully the karma will include some professional recognition!

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