Talk about ironic… last week I received a list of update requests from a non-profit organization whose website I have managed for 15+ years as a volunteer. Among the changes, I was asked to post photos of a large luncheon event with this caption: “With the help of our sponsor [a local bank], we celebrated the work of our amazing volunteers! We love our Volunteer Team!”
The email ended with “Please let me know if you have any questions.”
Yeah, I’ve got a question: Why wasn’t I invited?
Honestly, I was pretty annoyed. By my estimation, I’ve been an amazing volunteer. After serving on their Board of Directors for a few years, I took on creating a website. Yes, over 15 years ago. Not only have I managed the site for all these years, I’ve paid the hosting and domain registration fees every year as a donation. I’ve attended events, donated needed items, and even created a quilt which is now hanging in their lobby.
So to be left off of the list for a big Volunteer Appreciation event was an egregious oversight. I’ve been looking for ways to cut back my workload and this became a good opportunity to do so. After I told them that this was the end of the line for me (and I did hand over all of the logins and passwords), I received a gorgeous flower arrangement with a nice note of thanks for my years of effort — but at this point, too little, too late.
If you are lucky enough to actually find a professional who will manage your website as a volunteer, treat that person like the superstar they are
Should you be fortunate enough to find a willing, able, and competent volunteer to design or manage your website, thank that person every chance you get. It is not surprising that some of my favorite volunteer projects are for the ones who actually say thank you. A simple note, a listing as an in-kind donor or sponsor in an event program, or the occasional testimonial on social media all do wonders for the attitude of the web designer.
I never expect gifts from clients (pro bono or otherwise), but when a pro bono client takes the time to send me a token gift card for ten dollars at the local coffee shop, or drop by with a bottle of wine, it reminds me that he or she really does care about my contribution. The effort speaks volumes and renews my dedication to the client’s cause.
Then again, be careful with your public thanks. After I designed the website for a local nonprofit organization at no cost, the executive director placed an advertisement in the local paper: “Thanks to Collective Discovery for providing free websites for community nonprofits.” Needless to say, my phone started ringing off the hook, as others got excited about the prospect of a free website.
Sometimes too much public thankfulness is not a good thing. Private thanks are just fine!