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Ask DN: Do you do pro bono work?

5 years ago from , Digital Product Designer

Time and again I work on pro bono projects for Amensty, Red Cross, etc. Utilizing my skills to create a better world. That's at least what I'm telling myself.

I'm curious if any of you do the same? And if you get the fulfillment you expected? - Both in terms of building great things, and if it was as fun to carry out the work as it sounded when you promised it?

34 comments

  • Marcel Wichmann Marcel Wichmann , 5 years ago

    I really don't like U2's music.

    53 points
  • Simeon KSimeon K, 5 years ago

    I find it much more fulfilling doing things when money isn't involved. (i.e Me not expecting compensation from entity X and/or entity X not feeling obliged to reward me with money).

    I know it sounds cliche but when you do volunteer projects and choose the work you love, you'd truly never have to work a day in your life.

    Just my two cents :)

    7 points
  • Koen SlagterKoen Slagter, 5 years ago (edited 5 years ago )

    I annually create all media for a music festival in my village (posters, website, flyers, banners, t-shirts etc.). Because I really enjoy the festival and they had some rough years keeping up.

    But this year I found myself not having fun building the products, because I felt like it took too much time and didn't reward enough.

    So next year I'll be asking for a compensation, but I won't be charging my regular fee

    6 points
  • Tom DurkinTom Durkin, 5 years ago

    I've done a few bits for charity, I think i've done some of my best work when I wasn't being paid to be honest, but I prefer to see an increase in my bank balance after I'm done I have to admit. Working on 2 potential charity jobs at the moment because I'm quiet, but want to get stuff in my cv. I think in that respect it can be really useful.

    4 points
  • Julian PetersJulian Peters, 5 years ago

    This summer is my sixth time being part of youth summer camp. Since last year, I have stepped up to organize the camp for close to 100 children ranging from 9 to 17 years of age. I don't do much design work, but use my knowledge in organization and marketing to make the camp come true.

    After four years of being “only” camp counselor, it really wasn't much more fun, so I decided to change the activities or quit all along. This will always be the right thing to do for me: either quit or find something else that catches my interest in the project.

    3 points
  • Rolando MurilloRolando Murillo, 5 years ago

    I swear this is not spam, but the company I'm the Product Manager at does exactly this. We facilitate pro-bono work for professionals in various nonprofits of their choice. Employees are encouraged to participate in the system, so I worked on two projects with different nonprofits. http://catchafire.org/

    3 points
    • Rasmus LandgreenRasmus Landgreen, 5 years ago

      Yeah just learned about catchafire - pretty interesting. Organizations pay to be a part of it? Or do they pay (you/the freelancer?) per project carried out?

      A problem I'm always facing is that unpaid work quickly gets a lower priority than paid work - simply because the ones that are getting something for free aren't nagging as much as the regular clients. Maybe they don't feel they can demand something that is basically a gift.

      0 points
      • Rolando MurilloRolando Murillo, 5 years ago

        Yeah just learned about catchafire - pretty interesting. Organizations pay to be a part of it? Or do they pay (you/the freelancer?) per project carried out?

        They pay Catchafire.org a monthly subscription in order to list projects. The real value of the company is that we provide the scope for each project (project types) so that both parties know exactly what to do, what to expect and how to proceed.

        A problem I'm always facing is that unpaid work quickly gets a lower priority than paid work - simply because the ones that are getting something for free aren't nagging as much as the regular clients. Maybe they don't feel they can demand something that is basically a gift.

        I'm with you on that one, it’s tough to prioritize pro-bono work and that's why you need to choose the right project and the right organization. As mentioned above, the fact that we have scoped projects helps a lot. Additionally, nonprofits and professionals have interviews that we facilitate before even making a decision. This gives the opportunity for nonprofits to explain their needs, the impact their project would have and for professionals to ask questions and express their concerns!

        0 points
  • Catalin CimpanuCatalin Cimpanu, 5 years ago (edited 5 years ago )

    Yeah. I just finished a project for a local NGO that takes care of abandoned children. They wanted a silly WordPress blog so it didn't even take me that long either.

    2 points
    • Rasmus LandgreenRasmus Landgreen, 5 years ago

      You don't sound overly excited about this. Is it because the final product is too silly for you to showcase, or what's the reason?

      Or am I just misinterpreting things?

      0 points
      • Catalin CimpanuCatalin Cimpanu, 5 years ago

        The client wanted a popup on the frontpage with a very corny and melo-dramatic YouTube video. Makes me cringe every time I see it.

        Fortunately for the kids the NGO has become very prolific at their job. They don't have that many technical-savvy volunteers to enter their blog posts so I offered to do that as well. They send me a new campaign every week so I'm willing to forgive their "Gork must have popup or smash" strategy.

        2 points
        • Rasmus LandgreenRasmus Landgreen, 5 years ago

          But in order for this to be a truly fruitful thing for all parties involved, you should be able to power through this and say "No, it's going to be shit, let's do like this instead". You being the professional. Now you have something you'll probably never put in a portfolio or anything, right?

          Was this never an option?

          1 point
          • Catalin CimpanuCatalin Cimpanu, 5 years ago

            Never. I just wanted to help them because one of the NGO's VPs was my friend. And that's why you should never work with friends. All discussions will end up with the kryptonite phrase of "Come on! Just do that! I'll buy you a beer."

            On the popup thing I officially warned him this is a scammy and user-annoying practice, but he decided to go with it anyway. I was not about to get in a serious fight with him about a popup. We just had a serious beer mileage together. Could have ended badly. :)) Broken bottles, broken friendship... popups are dangerous like that you know.

            7 points
  • Andrew LucasAndrew Lucas, 5 years ago

    Yeah, have done in the past. I had a friend that set up a not-for-profit legal advice and representation company. I helped him out with branding and a site. This service came about after the government funded one was shut down, so it was great to help out a friend that was trying to re-establish that (very needed) service.

    2 points
  • Nathan ManousosNathan Manousos, 5 years ago

    I did the San Francisco Street Food Festival website for a few years in a row. Sadly I've become too busy the past couple years but I hope I can get back into it sometime.

    The festival is put on by, and benefits La Cocina.

    1 point
  • Chris GillisChris Gillis, 5 years ago

    Yes and I think all designers should work it into their career somehow. A good place to start would be https://www.catchafire.org - I've done projects there and they have a good system setup.

    1 point
    • Rasmus LandgreenRasmus Landgreen, 5 years ago

      Nice, didn't know of that, thanks. Can't figure out what they do exactly - doesn't seem to be any money involved anywhere. Are they a type NGO of their own?

      Do you know of any similar things?

      0 points
      • Chris GillisChris Gillis, 5 years ago

        The hook people up with non-profits that need work done for various skills. There's no money involved in the transaction.

        0 points
  • Ced FunchesCed Funches, 5 years ago

    I find that it can be a bit of both. On one hand you can sometimes work on some great things and provide a service to many that wouldn't get the chance. On the other, you may find it hard to balance the demands of the projects, while still keeping your FT commitments.

    Great question

    1 point
    • Rasmus LandgreenRasmus Landgreen, 5 years ago

      To me, it's also a matter of getting to work with some great material, full of emotions, strong and clear messages - and with a brand value way bigger than anything I could land on my own.

      0 points
  • Maurice CherryMaurice Cherry, 5 years ago

    We do one pro-bono project a year for a NPO, which is usually a total redesign and rebranding. In most cases, they just need a new website, but it varies.

    1 point
  • Graham KinsingerGraham Kinsinger, 5 years ago

    I have, yes. Sometimes it's a fun way to use my skills and build my résumé. Even though it would be nice to have some sort of pay, I'm usually grateful for opportunities to help people while doing something that I love.

    1 point
  • Lete PaceyLete Pacey, 5 years ago

    If it feels good, do it.

    0 points
  • Andy LeverenzAndy Leverenz, 5 years ago

    Starting out yes but only because I wanted to improve my practice. Now a days I don't have time for it nor would really consider it.

    If it's something inspiring and could lead to more opportunities AND you have the time then I say go for it.

    0 points
  • David MDavid M, 5 years ago

    NOOPE!!!

    0 points
  • Adrian StanAdrian Stan, 5 years ago

    I did pro bono work for my friends that started their companies. Nothing fancy. Just 3-4 page sites that I could scrape up in a day.

    0 points
  • Todd SielingTodd Sieling, 5 years ago

    Yes. We chose a charitable partner and have worked with them for over a year. The first round was substantial, a web app, and we make periodic improvements and advisory conversations that mostly build on that. We'd only take on one of these partners at a time and only those that we felt we could work with over time. Doing one-offs doesn't build the relationship we're looking for there.

    As for fulfillment, absolutely, they've been very gracious in their recognition, and we see the impact of our work in our city.

    0 points
  • Sam MularczykSam Mularczyk, 5 years ago

    Yes. I do it often - I try and help out with EFF/internet freedom projects and volunteer for cool open source things.

    It's really fun and you do feel like you're making a difference.

    0 points
  • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, 5 years ago

    Are you offering?

    0 points