Thursday, August 16, 2007

Should you work for free?

I ask this question because I find myself doing work for my church. Now, don't get me wrong, I know that God looks down and smiles on me and stuff because I'm devoting time to His cause and everything . . . but really, is it smart to work for free?

Currently, I'm doing publicity work for my church. In the past, we did a particular fund-raiser that has been pretty successful. But to be successful it needs a person to contact a long list of media and websites and announce the event (through press releases and PSAs) which hopefully brings us an audience.

It's something I've volunteered to do for my church. However, to do this job correctly it takes almost 24 hours (3 days work). Three days that I have to set aside my paying work . . . because "of course" they want it done immediately.

But here is the rub, I really should be working those three days and making money to off-set some of my bills. And it looks like, my church is making a habit of asking me to sacrifice "paid work time" to give them "free work time."

So, I ask the question again: "Should we work for free?" My answer: Yes. If you want to make a difference in your world. If you feel the cause is just, yes. If you are a member of something and want to see it grow and flourish . . . yes.

But the key is to make sure you communicate to others (especially those who ask you to volunteer your time) exactly what you are giving. Because, though they are getting it for free, it does have some worth.

I think the best way to do that is to submit invoices for your work. The invoices bottom line can say $0.00 - but it should outline all the work you have done, how much time it took, how much it would usually cost to spend your time on the project -- just so everyone understands just what they are getting -- just so you understand "what" and how much you are giving away.

So, the next time you (or I) volunteer to do a job. Submit an invoice with a big RED STAMP -- "DONATED SERVICES, PAYMENT NOT REQUIRED." That way you and others understand, just because it's free don't mean it's not valuable.

Photo by nyanna


  1. Simple as this: Only if you love AND can afford it.

  2. Good point Sarah. People should really assess if they can afford to offer their services for free before actually doing it. Thanks for the comment! Very valuable.

  3. Someone pointed out to me recently, that this also helps the "giver" mentally place value on his/her work. It's important that YOU know the value of your work, just as much as your pro bono client understands the value. 2014 is the year we value ourselves!


Let me know what you think! Really, I am interested.