As a branding agency owner, I have been asked by dozens of friends either working for or with not-for-profit organizations to help with their marketing. At first, frankly, I was flattered that someone would want my work to grace their organization’s letterhead or website or business card or event poster or invitation or.....I’m sure you get the picture.
After a while though, there was real resentment growing in me anytime I saw their number show up on my caller ID. The cynic in me just knew they were calling for another freebie.
A colleague of mine, Rockwell Morris, enlightened me about a term called "donor creep." It is rise in requests from a charity seeking free or steeply discounted work. Before long I even started receiving requests from other charities who had seen or heard what a great job I did for so and so and wanted me to help with their free project!
Don’t get me wrong. I really believed in what these organizations were doing. They each, respectively, provided a much needed service in our community and went a long way to positively changing lives.
I could have declined the requests but I didn’t want to appear as a scrooge and I suppose I envisioned my free work for them would eventually lead to paid jobs. I simply had not learned how to say no. A few years ago, however, I instituted a policy for my firm that proved to not only preserve respect and dignity for the charity and my firm but it also relieved some pressure and allowed my pro-bono work to have more impact.
February 21, 2013