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Nonprofit Websites

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Q&A Nonprofit Websites

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  • #80460

    There are a lot of great nonprofits around, but their websites leave much to be desired (no offense). They deserve better exposure and marketing for their great causes, but often don’t have the budgets or time to manage that. Does anyone know of an organization that links graphic designers or design students with nonprofits to provide free website design? Just a basic, low-maintenance page can do so much for a cause.

    This would be a fabulous course project for a professor to give her/his students.

    Just a thought, since I was randomly looking @ some of these websites today. I’d organize it myself but I have too much on my plate already. So I’m throwing the idea out to the rest of you for the taking!

    #350178

    anillo
    Participant

    this is kinda unrelated, but my friend who used to be a graphic designer but switched to computer programming after transferring to OSU is making a website for a nonprofit his dad created after retiring from teaching in gahanna. it’s not done yet but i think it still looks pretty good (it’s http://www.oeoh.org).

    #350179

    JonMyers
    Participant

    I couldn’t agree more SugarPlum. Here’s a gallery of non-profits some of whom do get it, which might give you hope:

    40 of the Best Websites of Non-Profit Organizations

    [/url]

    The link[/url].

    While we’re at it, I wish some Columbus organizations that promote districts and travel would have a look at this inspirational gallery.

    37 of the Best Web Designs from the Travel Industry

    [/url]

    The link[/url].

    #350180

    Wow, all of the sites linked are impressive!

    #350181

    Bear
    Participant

    So… I wonder if web designers could arrange to donate websites to nonprofits, and write off the value of the code on their taxes?

    I know people can’t donate their time to a nonprofit, but I have no idea what the rules are regarding the donation of something like a website, which might (?) be treated as a product rather than time.

    If that’s allowable, it might be a good way for underemployed web designers in a down economy to lower their tax burden. If they don’t end up getting audited.

    #350182

    Bear wrote >>
    So… I wonder if web designers could arrange to donate websites to nonprofits, and write off the value of the code on their taxes?
    I know people can’t donate their time to a nonprofit, but I have no idea what the rules are regarding the donation of something like a website, which might (?) be treated as a product rather than time.
    If that’s allowable, it might be a good way for underemployed web designers in a down economy to lower their tax burden. If they don’t end up getting audited.

    I’d think you would just consider the market value/what you charge for a website (product?) and that would determine the tax deduction. Also thinking this is a great way for un(der)employed designers to network and sow seeds for possible future employment. Some of my best jobs have come out of volunteer work.

    #350183

    berdawn
    Member

    sarbanes oxley updated most of how donations of labor could be credited…IIRC “labor” can be donated and calculated as an in-kind donation by the organization ($10/hour, I *think*) but there is limited (if any) tax-deduction available for “professional services” that one might donate.

    #350184

    Nitsud Regnifloh
    Participant

    AICUO

    we recently updated our site. the old one was icky.

    #350185

    Tenzo
    Participant

    berdawn wrote >>
    sarbanes oxley updated most of how donations of labor could be credited…IIRC “labor” can be donated and calculated as an in-kind donation by the organization ($10/hour, I *think*) but there is limited (if any) tax-deduction available for “professional services” that one might donate.

    The problem with donating time is that it doesn’t work out in tax-land economics.

    Say I get $100 an hour for my work.
    I decide to take a week off and donate my time to ‘Buttons for Hand Puppets’

    On the surface it would appear that I gave a $4,000 donation (40 hours times my rate). But the IRS doesn’t play that way. Any deduction must be tangible. So the math would only work with.

    1) I work $4,000 worth of time for BFHP (‘Buttons for hand puppets’)
    2)BFHP pays me $4,000
    3) I donate your $4,000 back to BFHP
    Net equals a donation of my time.

    But in the IRS’s eyes I was paid $4,000. So I have to pay money on that income. Yes, there is deduction, later in the form. But that does not come off until other taxes are paid. So I end up paying city, state and federal on the $4,000.

    Yep, the govenment wants a cut of your donated time.

    #350186

    JonMyers
    Participant

    Aside from the lack of a financial incentive, the problem with donating a website that wins attention and awards is that it usually takes a team.

    Additionally, the organization you’re building a website for has to be actively engaged in the process. In order for the site to get elegant, beautiful and usable results you need content. The story, what are they about, what are they trying to say, why should you care. You need great photographic assets and the site needs to be dynamic. Why would someone ever return?

    Then there are times you have stakeholders involved in the process who think they get it, but are completely clueless. That’s hell. I see a lot of half-baked sites that fall into that category. I can see and hear the stupid conversations that amateurs fixate over like color.. lol – agony.

    And lastly, if the organization dresses like a slob (shitty website) they probably aren’t going to care about or even know how to value good design.

    A well designed website is an investment and if you’re a business, it’s usually even more important than your physical space. Your home. It’s not something that some student can just do, although it is possible. You can also do surgery with a paring knife, but I’d prefer the skilled hands of a surgeon with the right tools.

    #350187

    Bear
    Participant

    Tenzo wrote >>
    The problem with donating time is that … the govenment wants a cut of your donated time.

    Bingo.

    But the question is, does that apply to something you’ve created with your time (like a handcrafted object for a silent auction, or, say, a website) and then donated?

    JonMyers wrote >>
    Aside from the lack of a financial incentive…

    The financial incentive is the issue, though. If you’re talking about nonprofits, and if the value of the website (not the labor) is something that can be written off, then there would be a financial incentive. Not as big an incentive as selling the website commercially for $X, of course, but saving the taxes you would have paid on that same $X could be worth a chunk of someone’s downtime. That’s where I’m going with this. (Also might have good value as advertising for your company, but that’s harder to assess.)

    #350188

    JonMyers
    Participant

    True, but – someone who is donating a website probably isn’t making money in the first place.

    #350189

    Alex Silbajoris
    Participant

    I edit the FOSR website in Notepad. I am so 1996.

    sciotoriverfriends.org

    #350190

    Bear
    Participant

    JonMyers wrote >>
    True, but – someone who is donating a website probably isn’t making money in the first place.

    Maybe; or they’re filling in 30 hours a week with work and looking to spend the extra 10 doing something productive like reducing their tax burden.

    But point taken, if there are no underemployed web designers out there whose skills exceed those of the average webmaster of a nonprofit, then it’s not worth considering. I just suspect there might be.

    #350191

    JonMyers
    Participant

    Right on Bear I hear what you’re saying. Another point I was driving at is one major reason you see so many crappy non-profit websites is that the sites were donated in the first place.

    Most people underestimate the effort and number people involved in designing, developing and maintaining a professional website. For a decent organizational website it’s rare that there is one person (the web designer) that can deliver an end-to-end solution. That rare person that can and does it well doesn’t have time for donations because they’re in demand.

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