Dear Danielle: “God’s Work” is Not Getting Me Paid

Dear Danielle,

I’ve been struggling really hard with determining what target market I would like to cater to with my administrative consulting business. I have gone back and forth about it for awhile now. It is so tempting to take work where you can get it, but I know that is not the correct way to go about building a business. My industry experience has been in working with nonprofits, but for business purposes I would like to target start-up nonprofits because I know how much it takes to get a nonprofit off the ground and I can see how I can easily be retained in this case as well. My concern is that I won’t be fairly compensated for my work. I worked with a ministry and I didn’t get paid a dime because sometimes with entities like this, you get caught up in doing “God’s work.” Can you please give me some guidance with this issue? I would really appreciate it. —JS

Thanks so much for submitting your question. I would love to help give you some guidance on this.

First, I want you to download my free guide, Get Those Clients Now!  When it comes to getting clients more quickly and easily, it’s all about the target market. This guide will help you get more clarity around that.

It’s great that you have an idea of who you want to target. Now, you just want to do your homework about viability. Nonprofits can be tricky. While it sounds like you’ve got a great background perfectly suited to support them, you’d just want to make sure you are targeting a niche that actually has money. Because if they can’t afford professional fees, all your wonderfulness isn’t going to help you if they simply can’t pay. I’m not sure how financially secure and solvent start-up nonprofits will be, but that, of course, will be your homework to research and find out.

That said, if you can determine there’s a viable niche in there for you, your marketing message can make all the difference in the world. If you can help them understand how your strategic administrative support will actually help them operate more cost effectively and profitably, and how it will help them accomplish a whole heck of a lot more than they could otherwise, that’s half the battle.

So download the guide; it’ll help you go about that whole process.

Now, may I give you just a little bit of tough love? Please know it’s said with hugs and a heartfelt desire to help you turn things around.

You mention being concerned about not being fairly compensated. Maybe it was just poor phrasing on the fly, but the way it was worded made me wonder if you were maybe taking too passive a role in leading your own business.

Because, it’s not up to clients whether you are “fairly compensated.” YOU are the one who decides what you will charge, how you will be paid and when you will be paid. Your job is simply to inform clients how it all works. If they had gone through a proper consultation process and signed a contract, how did they not know they were a client and were supposed to be paying for your services?

So, if clients were manipulating you into working for free, you want to realize that they didn’t do that to you; you allowed that to happen.

To change that, what you want to do is get more intentional about your business and consultation processes as well as who you take on as clients. Be sure to clearly separate business from any volunteer work you are doing. So, for example, if you had gone through your normal consultation process with this ministry, they should have been clearly informed that you charge a fee for your work, and how and when and what you will be paid for that work. If there was any misunderstanding or ambiguity there, that’s a sign that you need to improve those processes and communications in your business. None of that happens without your passive or active consent. You see?

So if we need to tighten up and intentionalize (my made-up word, lol) your consultation process, I highly recommend you check out my client consultation process guide.

I hope that helps! Let me know in the comments if things improve for you with this advice moving forward. :)

2 Responses

  1. Carmen says:

    Business is not religion, culture or nationality though we work with and for it but business is business. I have found that I weed out the bad ones (those that don’t want to pay) by asking for a set-up fee before starting any project! I have dealt with people from church that do not pay and I learn one time and that’s it!

  2. PS: Also, be sure to read my article on how to avoid not getting paid :)

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