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6 Keys To Managing Freebie Requests | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

6 Keys To Managing Freebie Requests

“Can you donate your services for free?” is a question with which every business owner wrestles.

Volunteerism is so close to my heart that last year my husband told me to focus my fundraising efforts on the Biever Family College Fund. Even so, my volunteer hours this year will far exceed 100. 

The first promise of a request is always: if you give your services for free, you’ll gain visibility in new markets. That’s great when you begin. It gives experience along with that visibility.  What happens after you have visibility and have a full roster of paying clients?

Manage Your Freebies – don’t let them manage you.

  1. Target Your Donations: Select one or two organizations you wish to help and funnel your energies to them.
  2. Budget Your Donations: At the beginning of the year, budget how many free hours you can afford to donate, schedule them, and hold to it. If others ask for free services, explain that you’ve already maxed your nonprofit donations for the year.
  3. Evaluate the Request: In the last two years, my volunteering has gained me 3 paying clients.  If the person who is requesting help gives you warm referrals, helps you in other ways, or generates business for you, consider the request carefully.
  4. Make a Strategic Donation: Talk with your accountant; if you donate your fee back to a 501(c)(3), can it be a tax deduction for you? If you’re asked to speak, can you offer back of room sales of a product that can generate income? Can you offer a door prize or giveaway if people sign up for your contact lists so you can contact them later? Can you discount your rate?
  5. Value your work: If you don’t value your work and what you can provide, no one else will. One of my clients told someone who asked her to speak for free, “I don’t work for coffee cups. When you ask me to speak, I plan my talk, pack my supplies, travel, spend my time with you, answer questions afterwards, travel again, and unpack. What I’m charging you is a bargain for the number of hours involved.” 
  6. “Profit” is not a 4-letter word. Neither is “no.” It’s ok to decline a request.

There are other ways to promote worthy causes besides donating your services.  Promote the organization’s events and services to your friends and family. If you believe strongly in their cause, pencil them in for next year’s budgeted donations.


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