No self-respecting designer/developer should be doing sites for free for charities, that’s what Michael Boyink says in this article. And he has a very good point – why chould organisations (in this case churches) value something that they got for free?
Whereas his main point is that a site got for free will not have a secure lifecycle – it will be changed, redeveloped or scrapped at a moments notice without due thought. However I think the problems are much more fundamental than that, and happen earlier on in a sites life. This is something I have much experience of.
Imagine you’re a member of a church, and you really want to create a website for that church. All well and good. You are willing to give time, expertise, money and effort to make this a really, really great church website. But because you’re doing it for free, the leadership of the church don’t see the value of the project – they certainly don’t have the same passion for it as you do. So it’s an uphill struggle to motivate them to get behind the project and provide decent content. In fact you end up writing most of the content yourself, just to get something on the pages.
There may be one or two people who “catch the fire”, but in general most people are unaware or apathetic about the whole thing. They just don’t see the value. And the leadership are worse, because they are more deeply involved in other areas of church life they are closed to the possibility that this could, actually, make a lot of difference to a lot of things. In effect, they don’t see the value.
So how to rememdy this? One of the suggestions is to send an invoice, but mark it “paid in full”, however several people have rightly said that doing that wouldn’t actually change the perceived value of the site – they’ve still not paid anything. So some exchange of currency is needed. And on that note I’ll leave you to think about exactly what charging scale you use for sites like this. But bear in mind what Noyink says:
There should be no guilt for being compensated fairly for your efforts.