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Take It Personally

#25: When To Work For Free

Apr 14, 2020

In this episode of Take It Personally, I’m going to share my rules for when to work for free, what to give, and how to say no. This is an important conversation, and it may be coming up more lately with all that is going on in the world (when I planned this episode, I didn’t think I would be sharing it during a global pandemic).

You may be in the position right now of having more free time and the ability or capacity to share free content with your audience. Or you may be in the position where you need the money to pay your bills, and working for free isn’t really an option.

One of the biggest struggles I have had as I’ve built my business is knowing when to work for free - to donate time, product, or money to the many amazing causes that often reach out to me. I was raised in a family that gives; my parents always shared their time and money with causes that were important to them. I understand and value social responsibility. But when you own your own business, you also have to balance that sense of responsibility with your bottom line.  

Here’s a look at the things I talk about in this episode:

  • How knowing my mission and core values helps me know when to say yes
  • Why you need to know your limits (time, money, etc.) so you don’t resent saying yes later
  • Why it may feel selfish at first, but if you want to run a profitable business, you just can’t give to all of the causes and events
  • Why you should determine what you are willing to donate, and set your priorities beforehand
  • Why helping the organization you are working with understand the value of your donation is something you should do (many do not know how much creative services actually cost)
  • How volunteering and donating can also be a great place for exposure and networking

A few highlights from this episode:

[3:54] As part of your annual plan, I suggest you determine how much time, money, and/or product you are willing to donate for the coming year.

[6:47]  The more profitable of a business you can run, the more you can give back, and the more you can be an asset to your community. 

It can be hard to say no, and it might be a learning process in figuring out what you can and actually want to give away, but when you fine tune what you want and need from your philanthropy, it's a winning proposition. You make connections and market your brand, and community organizations benefit from your generosity and commitment - win, win.

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