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The Pay It Forward Fund

The Pay it forward fund

It all started more than a decade ago (when I used to own a digital agency) when a potential client reached out about a website.

She had aspirations of becoming a professional speaker and needed a brand to support that. After chatting for about a half hour, she casually mentions that she was a participant in an internship program with Seth Godin and that he was going to be unveiling the product of their work together in three days.

And she had no website.

So, to recap… the one and only Seth Godin was about to put a gazillion eyes on her in three days and she had no website. Not even a crappy one. And these were the days before quickie page builders. A website was a whole big thing to build.

She had no time and almost no budget.

So I did what any good Godin Worshiper would do:

I dropped everything and pulled together a website for her in 24 hours for almost no money.

Why?

Because when an opportunity like that knocks… even if it’s for someone else, you fucking answer it.

Because SETH GODIN.

And because she didn’t ask me to.

She wasn’t desperate. Or scrambling. Or begging for rescue. She had already decided that this one would just pass her by. And she was unbelievably gracious about the whole thing.

I told her I would get it done.

She had almost zero input on the design. But she trusted me. And it came out great.

She paid me what she could afford at that moment, with the promise that when she was on more solid ground, we would create a bigger, splashier, snazzier version for ‘real’ money.

I didn’t do it because of the promise of more cash down the road. Now, I don’t generally work for the promise of promotion. Feels too much like giving someone an IOU in lieu of a birthday gift.

I did it because she needed it. And I trusted her. And I was impressed by her. And I wanted to be in HER orbit.

Fast forward almost a year.

She sends me an email letting me know that she had gotten a really amazing job offer that she couldn’t refuse, and would no longer need to create her own empire, but…

Wait for it…

She wanted to honor her promise.

Her new job paid well, so she asked of there was a way she could pay it forward somehow. Like, if there was a project she could invest in somehow to keep her original agreement with me.

I was floored. I told her I would keep my eyes open and let her know if something came up.

Then, a couple of weeks later, I get a new client inquiry for another website and copywriting.

New client needed a site and needed full copy written. She was not a native English speaker, so copy was going to b a big job, and she had a significant budget shortfall.

So I asked Generous New Friend. I told her that I wasn’t sure how much New Client would need exactly, but that $2k seemed like about right to make up her shortfall. And if there was surplus, I would use it for other clients who had needs that their pocket books couldn’t reach.

She asked where she should send the check.

Just like that.

And I think we both did a happy dance.

She was over-the-moon that I found a way for her to close the loop on a commitment she made.

And I was over-the-moon because, HOLY WOW, right?!?

I have always wanted my business to be a catalyst for people to help each other. And the nature of a significant portion of my client base [mostly those who are just getting off the ground or who are reaching for something new] means that cool projects often have a tough time beginning due to lack of funds.

So this was a starting point.

Generous Client’s funds were used as seed money for what has become my ongoing Pay-It-Forward Fund. Visitors here have the option to contribute however much they would like to it, and we have several initiatives that also support the fund. Funds go into a separate account and are used to help great people do great things.

This is not a marketing tool.

We do not publicize scholarship recipients unless they request that their story be told. The point is not leverage this. The point is to help others do good work.

With that in mind, we match every dollar that’s contributed. You give $10, we give $10 worth of our time at our hourly rate.

What do contributors get?

You get to support an emerging community of entrepreneurs who believe in helping each other. Nothing more, nothing less.

Want in?

We have lots of options for how much and how often to contribute.

Please note: If you would like to make a contribution for an amount not listed at checkout, please reach out to support@illanaburk.com. We'll be happy to make that happen for you.


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