During my short career as an opera singer in NYC, I lived by some hard and fast rules; one of these personal mandates being:
“Avoid singing for free, and under NO circumstances should you pay to sing.”
Why – that is why pass on some opportunities to “showcase” my talents merely because of money? Because it was my experience that those of us who were paid, even just a modest honorarium, were invariably treated better than those who weren’t; while those who paid to “showcase” their talents were routinely treated like crap.
After reading Jeffrey Zeldman’s post entitled “The New Samaritans,” and the Wired Magazine article on which the post was based “Changing the Face of Web Surfing,” I wonder sometimes if those of us who provide free web design services for churches wouldn’t get a bit more respect if we didn’t send said charities a bill for our services?
The Odeon Saga
Consider the case cited both by Zeldman and Wired of Matthew Somerville, an Oxford University math graduate who out of frustration redesigned the website Britain’s Odeon cinema chain – gratis. In fact, this free work was so stellar that Zeldman wrote:
“Mr Somerville did Odeon a favor by solving some of the site’s worst problems …”
“As it turns out, Odeon has hired a consultancy that specializes in the very work Mr Somerville did free.”
Now if this sounds vaguely familiar to some of you, it is because it smacks of a similar treatment Mike Boyink received after volunteering $7,500 worth of billable hours to develop one of the premier church websites on the Internet; Ridge Point Community Church.
Here’s a very quick chronology for those of you unfamiliar with the story:
- November 10, 2003 – After 18 months of work, Mike Boyink announces a pMachine-driven redesign of the Ridge Point Community Church website.
- April 14, 2004 – Pastor Jim Liske announces that “The internet is always changing and Ridge Point is changing its website to include everything the old one had and more! After the changeover occurs, you will need to re-register on the site.“Translation: Ridge Point decides to shelf the Boyink/pMachine design in favor of a Braunius/e-zekiel design whose sense and sensibility is best described by Tim Bednar in his “Open Letter to Pastor Jim Liske of Ridge Point Church.”
- June 4, 2004 – Pastor Jim Liske announces a return to the Boyink/pMachine design.
Having gone through a similar situation myself, NOT at Redland where I’m currently blessed with a VERY grateful and gracious staff, but at my prior church, I can understand “shock and sadness” expressed by Mr. Boyink. I also understand why Mike, like myself, opted to take his talents elsewhere.
What Would Zeldman Do?
Realizing that those us who donate our time and skill to our church’s websites are not in it for Earthly rewards or recognition, and taking into account scenarios such as the Somerville/Odean and/or the Boyink/RidgePoint redesigns in mind, the killer question for this weekend’s discussion is: “what would you do in a similar situation?”
For example, would you send the church a bill, which upon its receipt, you’d show up at the church office with a rubber stamp and mark the bill “Paid In Full?” Or would quietly you stick it out, even if it meant dealing with type A++ ministers with a penchant for micro-management?
It’s the weekend, let’s discuss: