We sometimes have clients who don't have the budget to work with us but really want to work with us. What solutions are there to work with them? Is a x% share in their company a solution for example?
Ask them what their max budget is and tell them what you can do within that budget. Maybe structure the proposal in a way where you will do Phase 1 for X, but it could lead into Phase 2 forY in the future.
ie: We will rebrand you and create a style guide for X. We can then make a new site and update your social at a later point for Y.
We certainly stick with our price and don't discount it. But why does some companies offer x% shares in their company instead of cash? Because they don't have the cash right now? Is this a "bad" signal?
Yeah, they simply don't have the cash - or would rather use it on more critical needs (ie: S3, bills, etc). Some also do it as a negotiation tactic. They figure... why not offer shares POTENTIALLY worth 3-4X more than your cost. They are willing to pay less cash (which is a pain to raise) in trade for stock which they control much easier.
There are some really notable examples of people doing work for shares and making out like a bandit (like the graffiti artist who was given FB stock to paint a mural)... but that's like the 1% success story. Just like a FT job negotiation, stock is absolutely worthless at the time they offer it unless it is already a publicly traded company.
If it were me I would not lower your rate at all unless you guys are super close on the numbers (let's say you want 30K, they counter with 15K and then you might consider saying 22K+16K worth of shares at the current strike). In the end, you need to cover your costs AND maintain your products worth. The worst thing you want them to say to a friend is "yeah they are expensive but I got them for 50% off... just play hardball". Keep your value high. Let them go the cheap route if that's their mentality.
I should also note that every time I have stuck to my guns on my rate (I simply tell them I know my worth and it's not negotiable), I've gotten the gig 90% of the time. Sometimes the guy you are dealing with WANTS to pay you... but they have to see what they can milk because that's what their boss or the CFO wants to see.
The share-solution is very risky. There are so many variables that will affect the success that you can't control. It will also lead to more administrative and legal work. The safest solution is to just drop it. There's always other exiting clients out there. With budgets.
In my opinion, I think if they don't have the budget then you shouldn't work together. To put it into perspective, I feel It's just the same as if you went to purchase some groceries but didn't have enough money. The grocer isn't going to be flexible and let you dictate prices. You simply take a few items out so that you can afford the ones that mean the most.
I believe it has been already said here but accepting low-budget projects tend to devalue your worth. They also have a history of being the most time-consuming projects even if they weren't supposed to be. I often see it as a red flag in my own experience. There are other fish in the sea!
For me, it always boils down to how much effort and time goes into it. For a high paying client I will make them a hand coded theme, top notch everything, etc. I don't want to make anything poorly, so for low paying clients I have a threshold where its too low to do anything. But If they exceed that threshold I will generally make a squarespace website, something that doesn't take too much time, etc.
I don't work for % of a company, but it depends on the company. If they are doing a kickstarter and could be very successful then maybe, but otherwise you generally wont be getting much in return.
So, I make a much lower effort product generally. As Mitchell said, low paying clients are generally much more demanding. Its not worth it. So it all boils down to the client, how much you want to work on the project, and how much it will help your career.
Do you want to work with them for some reason? I'd say educate them on the costs associated with your professional design services then try the phases idea Benjamin suggested.
If that doesn't work out, refer them to someone you trust who may be a better fit for them financially and maybe pick up a small referral fee in the process.
Yeah i think their idea could work. The project is about "better health services for people in Africa". I like the idea about making the world a better place to live and i want to be help them out with some awesome design but i have to see how it can work out so everybody is happy