donated sign


Very Active Member
Here's a "what would you do" thread for monday morning.

A few weeks ago we were contacted by a customer of ours who is building a community garden , they asked us if we would be willing to donate a sign for it (they would install). They are a pretty good customer of ours, but we don't do a ton of work for them. I thought that I could at least design something nice to put in the portfolio, so we agreed.

About a week ago they sent us a rough layout in powerpoint, and I was informed that this is what the sign has to look like to conform with their company branding. needless to say it was horrible, white background, black helvetica lettering, it looked very much like a construction sign ( it's a construction company), not at all like something you would expect to see at a garden.

I went back and fourth with them, suggesting a few tweeks, but everytime I was shot down by their branding department, I'm at the point where I don't want to donate an ugly sign that i'm not proud of, especially since it will have our name on it!

Am i out of line for wanting to have at least a bit of input into the sign i'm donating?

Pat Whatley

Major Contributor
Don't give away your craft. There.....problem solved. You want to support the community garden then show up on a Saturday with a hoe and get to work.

That said, if you're going to DONATE a sign then donate it on your terms. Tell them you're only willing to donate something that you'll be proud of and that will serve as an example of what your shop can produce. If they want it their way they can pay for it. Beggars can't be choosers.


Major Contributor
I don't want to donate an ugly sign that i'm not proud of, especially since it will have our name on it!

donate the sign they want as it is good will with a good customer and don't put our name on it.

J Hill Designs

Major Contributor
yup send em 2 mockups - 1 with your good design; price: free -- 1 with thier crappy design; price: $xxx

they will decide correctly


Major Contributor
Since you already agreed to donate a sign (I would have made sure that they were aware that if I was donating a sign it was up to me how it was designed, since they are getting it for free), I would do what they ask, but do not have your name to it.

Without having ground rules so each party knows what to expect, it makes it hard to play "hard ball" at a later date. Donating stuff is always a sticky thing when it's something that you would normally charge for. I try to stay away from it myself, but if for some reason that was the best thing that I could donate is my trade, then I would make sure it's something that I'm proud of and I had total creative control (unless there were restrictions that were beyond everyone's control).


Very Active Member
I agree. When I do a donation, that is what it is....a donation. They can make a suggestion and I will incorporate it. If it is downright ugly then show them both and hope they have the insight to see that. Good Luck


Very Active Member
When I donate a sign I get to pick the layout.

Gets my vote too. I would give them the option they want too but at an additional (not full) price. I would also let them know why, you have to be happy in the end it is your goodwill too.


Major Contributor
The only issue that I would have with given two options, one with a charge (rather discounted or full price) is that it no longer falls under a donation. At best, it's a discounted sign. I understand (and I vacillate with agreeing with it) doing that, but I always try to create a win/win situation. I highly doubt that the client would think that it's win/win. I know I wouldn't if I was the client. I try not to strain relationships if I can.

That's why I really try to stay away from donating my trade for anything, unless it's the best donation that I could do, but always setup ground rules before hand.


Very Active Member
Thanks guys, i just wanted to get the general consensus before I made up my mind, I'm going to offer my design for free, and the design they want for a discounted price without my logo on it.


Premium Subscriber
When someone donates something, they are simply donating something. Time, money, services, products, etc.

Unless you specified up front, you wanted to do the design, I don't think you can go back on your word, regardless of how ugly it is or not.

Donating a sign doesn't require you to put your signature or logo on it. That would be advertising and that really wouldn't be classified as a donation, because you are getting free advertising.

When someone donates, it's generally with the idea, there are no strings attached, from either side. You do something for free and they get something for free. Besides, if you put your name on it, you are opening yourself up to a whole bunch more people coming to you and saying, I see you donate signs, we want you to donate one to us.... and us too..... yeah and I want a freebie, too. When will they go away..........:frustrated:

How can you not be discriminating if you donate your services to one non-profit and not another without difficulty ??

When we donate, it's between us and them and we request they tell no one of the transaction... even in their own organization or company.​


Major Contributor
You already committed to make the sign, no strings attached. To go back now an dput restrictions on it will only cause problems. If you do as you are suggesting you are also telling your client that their designs suck. Just make the sign as they want and ask that your generosity remain anonoymous.


Make the ugly sign and put your competitors name on it, LOL

I agree ,Just dont put your name on it . Keep the customer.


Too late to turn back now.

For future donations, I would not do any because it always backfires. This is a business not a charity.


Major Contributor
I went back and fourth with them, suggesting a few tweeks, but everytime I was shot down by their branding

I took another look at the first post and it sounds like they want the connection to their business to this garden, fair enough. since the sign will look like a construction sign to match up with their image, can you work on making something cool to hang it from? since it is a garden, maybe make a cut out of a corn stock or sunflower to hold the sign so that your talents come thru with their construction sign look? if you could do that, it might be a way of showing off your work and how you can highlight the look of a business (theirs) but make it appropriate for the use such as a garden sign.