When you want to ‘do good’ via your business.

In this episode, Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from Lametta Truffleballs AKA Anonymous.

They say…

“Hi Frankie & Steve,

I see a lot of freelancers ‘doing good’ with their business, donating x % to the planet or to another good cause. I really like this idea, but — with two small children, one of which is still in a private nursery — I feel like I just don’t have the spare money to do this? Should I just suck it up and do it anyway??


Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.

Here’s what was said in this episode:

Comments on the previous episode:

[00:00:31] – Frankie
Hello, you’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.

[00:00:40] – Steve
Hello. Yes. Each episode we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids Community. Do our best to answer it, but we start each episode by looking back at the last one. Last time we were talking about…

[00:00:50] – Frankie
Going freelance as a consultant but not calling yourself a consultant.

[00:00:55] – Steve
Liz Bell got in touch.

Liz said,

“The word consultant is interesting. I think it needs to be defined further, though.

There are definitely consultants who work on high level strategy and deliver recommendations but don’t do the implementation. Lots of PowerPoint, etcetera. I’d generally describe that as strategy or management consultancy. There are also management consultancies who do get involved in implementation, like the one I used to work for, and they might supply interims to go in and do the job, so the lines start to get blurred.

However, outside of this quite corporate world, the word ‘consultant’ is often used to describe anyone who isn’t on the payroll. There is no standard definition. Most of those roles are very hands-on.

I don’t think it has the negative connotations you’re describing. At least, I haven’t seen that in my time as a freelance consultant. So I think ‘consultant’ is what people are going to call you, whether you want them to or not. It’s what they will search for and how you’ll likely be found on LinkedIn. And it will certainly be easier to go with that and use the term. You will always then, have to explain what you do in more detail, anyway, so that’s the part where you explain specifically how you help clients and what sort of work you will deliver.”

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:05:04] – Frankie
Episode 104, we have an anonymous question.

[00:05:09] – Steve
We could have a Christmas elf?

[00:05:11] – Frankie
That’s true.

[00:05:11] – Steve
Here we are. Christmas Elf Name Generator.

Male or female?

[00:05:15] – Frankie
Don’t mind.

[00:05:16] – Steve

Lametta Truffleballs? Come on, that’s a good name, isn’t it? It’s got to be that.

I’m not even going to read the rest.

[00:05:27] – Frankie
Fine. How do I even spell that?

[00:05:29] – Steve
L-A-M-E-T-T-A Truffleballs. All one word.

I’m intrigued, though, because looking at the way all the other words work, it would suggest Lametta is a thing. Have you heard of a ‘lametta’?

[00:05:42] – Frankie

[00:05:42] – Steve
What is a lametta?

[00:05:44] – Frankie
Oh, ‘Christmas hanging holographic lametta’.

[00:05:48] – Steve
Oh, it’s like tinsel?

[00:05:50] – Frankie
Yes. Tinsel curtain!

[00:05:51] – Steve
Wow. I never knew that was a thing.

[00:05:53] – Frankie
Our question today comes from Lametta Truffleballs, who says,

“Hi, Frankie and Steve.

I see a lot of freelancers doing good with their business. Donating X percent to the planet or to another good cause. I really like this idea, but with two small children, one of which is still in a private nursery, I feel like I just don’t have the spare money to do this.

Should I just suck it up and do it anyway? Help! Lametta.”

[00:06:18] – Steve
That was a good elf “Help!” at the end there. I like the way you said that.

[00:06:21] – Frankie

[00:06:24] – Steve
Okay. Donating X percent to the planet. There is a sort of scheme quite popular with businesses. Is it called “1% For The Planet”?

[00:06:35] – Frankie
I believe it is.

[00:06:36] – Steve
It is an organisation.

[00:06:37] – Frankie
You put like a badge on your website and stuff.

[00:06:39] – Steve
Yeah, and then they can give it to a load of organisations. I know some freelancers who don’t use that scheme, but use the same principle. So, they will say, “I’m giving 1% of my profits, for example, to this particular charity” and explain why that one is close to their hearts.

[00:06:58] – Frankie
But all of that is irrelevant if you feel you can’t afford it or you literally can’t afford it.

[00:07:02] – Steve
Yes. And that is the crux of this, isn’t it? “I really like this idea, but with two small children, one of which is still in private nursery, I feel like I just don’t have the spare money to do this.”

You can’t give away all of your profits. You shouldn’t base what you’re doing on what other people are doing. Be inspired by it, it’s a nice idea, but maybe their business is in a different position to what your business is in. Don’t give all your money away. Keep it. Build up a buffer of cash, because it’s going to mean that your business ends up in a healthier place. You’re going to make healthier decisions. It’s going to protect you further down the line. Then, you can look at it again and say, “oh, actually, now I’m in this position, I’m going to give this to charity.”

[00:07:48] – Frankie
To me, it feels like the PSA, right? It’s only now my son is eight that I’m actually thinking, “should I start getting more involved in the PSA and the school and stuff?” And that’s only because I have the time.

[00:08:03] – Steve

[00:08:04] – Frankie
That’s it. When he started, when he was four, five, whatever… When he was small. Then we also had an 18-month-old younger sibling. I was not earning much money at all. I could barely do my job, let alone take on anything else. So, yeah.

We talk about this a lot in this podcast, but there is no point in comparing where you are now with where somebody else is in terms of what they are doing and giving and ‘doing good’. I don’t want you to guilt-trip yourself into giving away the money you are managing to make when you have such tiny people and are paying massive childcare fees. Maybe now just isn’t the time? You just can’t afford to do that, financially.

However, are there things you can do that aren’t giving money? Like, there is more that we can do in the world that is positive, that doesn’t involve giving away — let’s be honest, our very hard-earned at that point in your life — cash.

[00:08:58] – Frankie
Little things like… and this comes up quite a lot in the Doing For The Kids Community. We had a thread recently about it. Somebody was asking about eco-friendly web hosts and stuff like that. Talking about who they can use as a host that uses less energy and has got a lower carbon footprint — that kind of stuff. We were also talking about alternative search engines. So, not using Google from a data privacy and ethical perspective. There are things that you can do in your business; there are changes that you can make that don’t cost you money. In fact, you might save money by changing suppliers or providers, I don’t know.

But yeah, things you can be doing that do make a difference without giving away your profit. But, not just giving away money, but also giving away time. Like, you’re at a stage in your life where time is money. More than ever. You may not literally be able to afford to give away money, but nor can you afford to give away time for free. Another example would be volunteering, or using your skills in-kind for a charity, but II feel like that’s not going to be that realistic for you either, at this point. But, there might be little changes you can make behind the scenes, like in the running of your business.

[00:10:09] – Steve
You’re right. You know, the whole changing your website to make it greener is great. But also, literally the way you live your life — not necessarily just to do with your business — but the whole turning down the thermostat by a degree, or only using the amount of water in the kettle that you need to put in the kettle. And getting a compost bin if you actually have a garden so that you can put your food waste into it. The plastics that you recycle at the bigger supermarkets and stuff like that. That’s just the way you live your life and in theory, the way you run your business, you know, like the type of paper you put in your printer…

[00:10:41] – Frankie
I mean, Lametta is literally a plastic tinsel. That’s an unfortunate position to be in. Maybe she’s feeling the guilt?

[00:10:50] – Steve
Of course, you could also argue, “well, put up your rates” and in a way it’s true. Like, if you want to earn more money with the view that some of it you would like to give to a good cause, then by putting up your rates you can do that. Also, this isn’t like giving 1% of your profits, but I do see some people say “for every new client I get this month, I’m going to give a donation to this charity”, or “all year long, every new client, I’m going to plant a tree.”

[00:11:24] – Steve
Planting a tree doesn’t necessarily cost that much, but it makes a tiny difference in that respect. But, it’s also quite a nice statement of your values and makes everybody feel good if they come and work with you. Like, little things like that might put those values across, on your website for example…

[00:11:44] – Frankie
It’s an interesting thing that you say “putting it on your website” because I do feel like… What is this for, Lametta? Clearly, they’re seeing other people doing this in a public way. We were talking about the badge from the 1% For The Planet, or whatever. Or, you might have values that say, “these are the things that I’m doing to make the world a better place through my business”.

I don’t know. Is it like you feel that you want to be that person and that people can see you doing that publicly? Or, is it that you feel…

[00:12:14] – Steve
So you’re saying — are you just doing it because you feel you should be doing it? Do you want to be doing it?

[00:12:17] – Frankie
No, I’m not. I don’t really believe that they’re just doing it because they think they should, but I do think that there’s an element of they want to be seen to be doing it as well, from a business perspective.

[00:12:31] – Steve
But then, I guess that’s… it’s not just value signaling, is it?

[00:12:36] – Frankie

[00:12:37] – Steve
What’s quite nice though, is that this is how these things spiral! It’s a sort of chain of goodness, it has a knock-on effect. You see another freelancer or business with it on their website saying “I do this”, and you think, “oh, that’s a nice idea, I’d like to do that.” You put it on your website, then somebody else sees it on your website, and then, suddenly we’re all doing a nice thing.

[00:12:55] – Frankie
So true.

Going back to the, “yes, I want to do it, but do I also want to be seen to be doing it”, thing. I think the fact that we are freelance, that we do run these small businesses, that we have control over what we can do in the world — it means that a lot of us feel a responsibility to do something because we can. Whereas, you might end up in a job working for a company who, on a personal level, you might not particularly agree with some of the stuff that they are doing in the world, but that’s just the job you’ve ended up in, and it’s hard to change it for whatever reason. Lots of people work for big businesses that they’d rather not work for if given the choice.

But we have the choice to decide what impact we’re having. So, I do think there’s that sense of responsibility for all of us. We have that control, and then you think, “why am I not using that control that I’ve built for myself? What can I do that I’m not already doing?”

So, I guess what I’m saying is, yes, there might be pressure by seeing other people in our sphere doing similar stuff, but it’s feeding on that existing internal pressure that a lot of us are feeling anyway. This little voice going, “oh, I should be doing more because I have the control, I have the power! But do I have the money, or do I have the skills or the knowledge?” It can be overwhelming, this stuff.

[00:14:20] – Steve
I signed our family up to ecoli-,

[00:14:25] – Frankie

[00:14:25] – Steve

[00:14:29] – Frankie
With an ‘I’ at the end.

[00:14:32] – Steve

I did this a few years ago. You can do this for your business as well, but I do it for our family. So, you tell it how many people are in your family and then it plants trees, and it does like, reforestation projects. It’s a really nice one, actually, because you can show it to your family as to what projects that money is going on, and they can see the difference that it might be making around the world. As well as, technically, having a little app on my phone with my little forest, which, of course, doesn’t take up any carbon at all creating those animations… I’m aware of that. But you could do something like that as a family.

[00:15:08] – Frankie
They may well be doing that anyway. We don’t know what’s going on at a personal level.

[00:15:12] – Steve
It’s not committing you to giving away a percentage of your profits, which is where this kind of starts.

[00:15:20] – Frankie
It’s a good point, actually. There are a lot of free carbon calculator things online. I did one quite recently that I thought was really good. I can’t remember what it was called, apologies, but there are tonnes of them. Essentially, you do a questionnaire and it gives you actual useful, practical ways that you could be doing more than you already are. That was like, on a personal level, but I have no doubt there will be similar things for businesses, small businesses, that will give you suggestions like we’ve been talking about. Things like changing your web host and using recyclable packaging materials, and whatever. There is so much information out there that can give you things to think about that don’t necessarily cost you money.

[00:16:03] – Steve
“I want to give to the planet. I’m not sure I can do it right now.” So our answer to that is there are lots of things that you can do that don’t take your money nor your time that will make a difference in that respect. Look after your business and then you can help look after the planet further down the line, because your business will be in a healthy place for you.

[00:16:24] – Frankie

Like, I’ve got two or three direct debits now that go out for various different things. Could I have done that six, seven years ago when my children were of a similar age? No, I couldn’t even pay my tax bill one year! If it’s just not an option for you, don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re already in a very challenging period of your life and we don’t need another layer of guilt on top of all the other things that we are feeling guilty about.

So personally, I would let go of the notion of donating actual money right now. I don’t think that’s an option for you and that’s okay. Like in many episodes we’ve done before, I want to give you permission to not give the money right now. It’s okay.

But yeah, there are other changes that you can make that are leading towards the same goal, but don’t, necessarily, take away from your income. And hopefully, in five, six, seven years time when you’re rolling in the cash, you’re going to be the sort of person that is going to give away not just 1%, 5% but 10%.

[00:17:30] – Steve
I would love to see the comments on this one because maybe you are somebody who gives X percent to the planet, or another good cause, but maybe you didn’t used to, or maybe you do it and you’ve struggled with it, I don’t know. Please let us know via the comments wherever Frankie has posted about this. And of course we love your questions for a future episode. Again, tell us in the Doing It For The Kids community or on Instagram or wherever you find Frankie. And it can be anonymous like this excellent one from Lametta Truffleballs.

[00:17:59] – Frankie
Steve has a blog on this subject, do you not? On the Being Freelance website.

[00:18:04] – Steve
Yes, I do! We did a live Q and A with Melissa Hobson. A very green focused freelancer. She aligned her business with her values and gives actually not 1% to the planet, but gives 1% to other good causes that she likes. Yes, you can find that by going to beingfreelance.com.

What would your advice be?

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