Joachim Breitner

Pro-charity consulting

Published 2023-01-08 in sections English.

A few times last year I was asked to help out with some software project – debugging a particularly gnarly nix issue, helping with GHC internals or reviewing Canister code of applications running on the Internet Computer. Usually, these are relatively small jobs, at least reasonably interesting, and it was often friends that approached me.

So I do want to help.

But I did not want to help for free. Incentives matter, and I wanted to incentivize careful use of my time. And of course I like to see my work valued. So normally, one would just charge an hourly fee.

But having to go through all the necessary legalese (setting up a contract, maybe an NDA, thinking about taxes and liabilities, possibly getting permission from the current employer) tilts the scale and would not made it worth it for me anymore.

But instead of just turning it down, a few times now already I used the following model: pro-charity consulting, where you still pay for what you get, but you don’t pay me, but instead a charity.

The rules of pro-charity consulting

The rough rules are as follows:

  • There is no contract. I trust you and you trust me, else we wouldn’t even be doing this.
  • There is no liability. You probably have a rough idea of what I can deliver and you trust me, so you don’t get to sue me if I screw up.
  • There is (usually) no NDA. Of course I’ll keep your secrets, but again you don’t get to sue me if I screw up.
  • I tell you about my usual hourly rate if this was a commercial agreement. (This may depend a lot on the field I’m helping you in.)
  • Afterwards I’ll also let you know how much time I have spend on helping you.
  • You’ll make a donation on a charity of our choosing. We’ll pick something that we both find worth supporting.
  • You can donate whatever the work was worth to you, but the expectation is that it shouldn’t be cheaper for you than if you’d have hired me commercially. (Unless I failed to fulfill your expectations.)
  • Legally, the donation is by you (e.g. you get to keep any tax benefits).
  • Morally, it is by me. For example if donations can come with a message (like on it would be appreciated to mention me.
  • According to the German saying “Tue Gutes und rede darüber!” we both get to brag about this donation (target charity, amount, client, kind of work), e.g. on Blogs, Mastodon, Twitter, unless we have a different agreement. See below for some examples.

I’m writing the rules out here so that I can just point to this blog post when I next have to explain this scheme.

Pro-charity gigs so far


Have something to say? You can post a comment by sending an e-Mail to me at <>, and I will include it here.