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  • della2

    I am challenged to change my business mode and make gie part of the plan.


  • Bernard M Lynch Jr

    Funny. I've been getting yelled at because I'm busy, and all of it is pro bono. I've learned architectural photography this way (in an 1865 basilica), and executive portraiture (a well-known neurosurgeon – business portrait, business casual, with his wife, and the entire family, on location, without my gear "make do"; and this morning my 8am, in 15 minutes.) I've got stupendous additions to my portfolio, great connections, a great reputation, and word does get around. No longer will I have to hear "but I can get that at Sears for $20!" THANK YOU FOR THE ARTICLE!!! Perfect timing. (And I even photographed greyhounds for the CT Greyhound Adoption Agency at their annual summer picnic. So what if it was iPhone 5: still got great shots!)

  • Julenne Esquinca

    Excellent article, simple, neat yet deep and meaningful :) hopefully volunteerism can spread like a virus in our society :)

  • Shilpa Alva

    Thanks for this post Mathew!! I enjoyed reading this and some of the material on your website! I admire both your philosophy and the fact that you are living it! I'll be sending in application to verynice in the near future - I'm the co-founder of a high impact volunteer run org called Surge for Water

    • Matthew Manos

      you are so welcome, Shilpa! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

  • Ann Rosen

    Thanks for this. I try to incorporate some of these ideas into my practice, but I appreciate the gentle reminder that I could be doing more.

    • Matthew Manos

      We all can be doing more - that is the challenge that gets me up in the morning.

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    Agreed! I've been doing this since 2005 when I sold my small home & most of my possessions to create/facilitate a volunteer literacy project and become a full-time freelance Professional "Cause-Focused" Storyteller. (yes, that's my REAL job) I've donated programs for 33,000 students in Belize, trained 800 teachers and this year it's going global. I live very simply (by choice) and have had amazing opportunities come my way because of giving. Give/Receive. Receive Give! Kudos to you! and HUG!

    • Matthew Manos

      Amazing, Kristin! I would love to chat with you more about that. Can you get in touch for a potential interview?

      • Kristin Pedemonti

        HI Matthew, Absolutely! that would be Awesome! Let me know how to best contact you. :)

  • tfrosty

    What percentage of their income or worth do "poster boys" Bill Gates and Warren Buffet actually give to charity or valuable causes? I am willing to be well short of 50%, whereas they probably need a fraction of what they have to actually live very comfortably, and support their extended families similarly. In absolute amounts they give a lot and should receive credit for it, but they give well short of what they can afford. It is companies like this that are showing the way to a truly sustainable and equitable economy in my opinion, not such "poster boys". Kudos to you.
    I think maintaining civil society is up to each of us. At present we seem so scared that we will be 'ripped off' by those who will take without giving that we are too scared to give at all, and any sign of a possibility of being burned sends us scurrying back into our isolation. In reality, as far as I can see, the majority of people are more give than take, a few people are all take and no give, and it becomes clear pretty soon who is which. If we continue to give regardless, though not so much to those who don't give back to anyone, those who are all take and no give will end up with what they need and little more, and the rest of us can share - mostly companionship and kindness, as well as material support, and all be a lot better off.
    But it means reaching out, and still doing so when burned a little, or even a lot, like suggested here, to build the community confidence in the principle, to bring more people in to participate.
    So again, kudos to you. We need more initiatives like this.

    • Matthew Manos

      Thank you for your kind words, put so eloquently. I'm glad we are on the same page.

  • robert leonetti

    Although the sentiment is a good one... there used to be an idea called Noblesse Oblige - that the ultra-fortunate had some duty to those less fortunate. Now we have Bourgeois Oblige. The wealthy will still donate, up to their legal tax-deductible limits, but it seems the burden of maintaining a civil society has fallen to the middle. Historically speaking, the roots of Noblesse Oblige came from a sense of civil unrest (a bit like Occupy). The masses were threatening to behead the leaders, and Noblesse Oblige was an attempt to show that leadership was benevolent, or at least benign. So what does today's phenomenon say?

    • Matthew Manos

      Pro-bono is actually a great solution to your little riddle, Robert. the beautiful thing about donating your time, on a volunteer basis, is that it actually is not tax deductible. That means anyone that is brave enough to do this is doing it for all the right reasons. That logistic is one of the reasons I find pro-bono to be a great model to help us all re-think the role of philanthropy today.

  • Rob Lewis

    All kudos to you if you can make it work. OTOH, in my experience people don't value things they get for free. ESPECIALLY in the area of design, where committees of self-styled experts think they have license to tinker endlessly with the work that you agonized and sweated over, all at no cost to themselves or their organization. If you discourage the tinkering by charging for revisions, you're really doing them a favor by getting them to focus on things that are actually productive and in their areas of expertise.

    (When I started my first job in advertising almost 40 years ago, my boss, a very senior creative director, would not accept a client unless they would identify ONE person who had final approval over the work. No committees.)

    • Matthew Manos

      It really is a matter of personal ethics - I have found that when a designer charges an organization, they are actually not devaluing the work of the designer, but instead the work of the non-profit organization.

      This concern of "de-valuing" is a frequent one, and it also brings up another instance of personal reflection we all need to have: what is "value"? I give over half of my work away for free, but I get a lot of value in return. It may not be monetary, but it is much much more profitable than that.

    • Ben Linderoth

      Rob, I work in the same industry and can identify with what you say, I agree with your ex-boss - one YES person and charges for changes. Only people who work in our industry can understand the gut wrenching hours taken away from family, only to pander to the panel. Lets be good to ourselves - only then can to we advocate real goodness

  • Richard Starr

    That's nice, provided you can pay your bills and manage to save for a rainy day.
    I'm all for the new kids doing community work, especially if they are living with mom and dad, but there are taxes/fees/licenses to be paid, and most of us simply can't afford to give our work away, especially if "we" have kids living at home competing against us or they happen to be our kids. :-)

    • Matthew Manos

      That is the beauty of this model, richard. It is designed for sustainability and profitability! This is a solution to years of issues in philanthropy and volunteerism. More here:

  • Alexa Kuppers-Kantor

    But how you remain profitable? Do I have to buy the book? :)

    • Matthew Manos

      You might have to! Or you can just give me a call :)

  • Erica Kleinknecht

    The same goes for much work that happens in higher ed too - the research we do in our labs, in many respects is done to help society in various ways....but if we don't give our work away that goal will never fully actualize. In 1969 the president of the American Psychological Association, George Miller called upon the members of APA to start "Giving psychology away" as a means of promoting human welfare, though sadly not many psychologists really do this regularly (or rather, if they do they don't broadcast it widely), a point I discuss in a blogpost ( myself. For myself, the work I've done "for free" has been the most gratifying of my career thus far. We do have to make a living, but giving some of our work away makes the life we live so much more satisfying.

  • David Dobson

    I have found myself doing something like this and was worried that I was spending too much time working for free for good causes and not enough for myself. But I really enjoy it and have had to learn some new tricks, and I have made some really good contacts and some of that has turned to paid work I wasn't expecting. So thanks for this, now I can make a case that its a net plus to keep giving away work. Just so long as I can feed my kids and pay my rent.

  • Dwayne Lindsay

    I have no problem with "giving back" and have done years of volunteer work outside my profession for orgnizations with no paid staff. I prefer not to dilute my professional brand by giving work away. I routinely receive requests for free work (or are slow/no paid) by well funded "NFP" organizations who are led by professionally compensated "CEO's " who show no sign of "giving back" much of anything. If these organizations truly find the price of my services "too expensive" and wish to receive free work, I suggest they defund their management and paid staff, and return 100% of their income to the mission. Otherwise they are simply a business model that does not declare a dividend, and they can pay the same (modest) rates as every one else.

    • Matthew Manos

      I'm right there with you! Far too many expenses are going towards hiring professionals. This model comes from a perspective that working with non-profits should be a charitable act that has benefits that are not of monetary-descent. Instead, that funding and revenue bank should come from those that deserve to be paying for something, which is those that are reaping clear monetary benefits from what we as designers are doing. With the US being home to 1MM NPOS, and 27MM private-sector businesses, there is clearly money to make elsewhere. It is no longer a question of "I should get paid for this work, right?" - instead it is "who and how can I get paid for this work?" - the answer to that question is not limited to one sector.

  • Mindy Nguyen

    Good karma is good business! What a great motto to go by. Can't wait to see what will happen when more businesses start to incorporate it as a part of their culture.

    • Matthew Manos

      Couldn't agree more, Mindy! Thanks so much for your support!

  • James Sedgwick

    Agree that we all should be thinking about how we can help others, via non-profit organizations or otherwise. But is just giving away your work and resources really a good idea? What benefit does it actually provide? And what does it do to the value of the work and/or services in the long run? Make them more or less valuable? We've seen big companies (e.g. Merck) give away hugely valuable resources in the past, and ultimately it was to their benefit. But do artists creating work have time or financial capacity to bank on long term returns, whether in the form of future business or public welfare?

    C'mon In Studios

    • Matthew Manos

      Hi James,

      Your question is very valid and great! Because it is a frequent concern, I have an entire chapter in the book dedicated to answering that questions. The short answer is that is provides incredible value, has no negative effect economically on creative industries, and requires no burden on financial capacity. If you are interested in talking further, please email me! I also highly recommend you check out the book:


      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        I love this point you make Matt: The old model of wealth is to introduce philanthropy after the riches. The new model of business, however, designs for the long term. It designs for simultaneous wealth and philanthropy.

        Your point about building relationships is key too. It's those relationships that add to the wealth.

        • Matthew Manos

          Thanks, Alessandra! I truly believe that its time to rethink the meaning of philanthropy and the players in that game.

          • Alessandra Rizzotti

            If you know of any other companies that are doing the same thing, you should totally linkshare them and tag it: philanthropy so they get noticed!