Recently, I fell in love with a nonprofit lighthouse restoration group after learning about them in an article from ScoutingNY. Eager to help in some way, I made a mock site redesign using WordPress to show them the potential for their site and offered to continue the design and implement it into their domain for free if they liked it.
For anyone who wants to see their site VS the one I made for them, this is their site and this is the one I made. The pages generally correspond with each other. I know it’s not the best site, but, in my opinion, it is by far more professional and clearer to understand than their current site. I respect their decision to keep their current site, but there’s no doubt in my mind that there was something more than preference dictating their minds.
Here is their website compared to mine. Notice how I fit all but two pages into the size of their homepage. (Click to see the image in full)
Below is my bizarre correspondence with the group. I have removed the introductions and conclusions to give some degree of privacy. I mean not to hurt them, as I still wholly support their cause. However, I was genuinely upset by the replies I received, not because they declined my offer, but because of their increasingly harsh replies I received. The green text is my commentary on each correspondence. Enjoy… I guess?
The first email I sent gave background about who I was and what I offered. Nothing crazy, right?
Me: My name is ______ and I saw your website today after ScoutingNY posted an article about your island. I was immediately interested in helping you guys somehow, but as a college student, I didn’t have much to give. So I used my website design skills to make a mockup of a redesigned site for the lighthouse to promote users to visit. It’s not complete by any means, but it’s a start and I really hope you like it. I’m not asking for anything at all for doing this. I really do appreciate what you guys are doing for this piece of history. If you would like to make it the official site I’d be beyond thrilled. It can be exported and installed on your host and I can help you do that. If you like it, I’d gladly make more finishing touches! So without further ado, http://executionrocks.wordpress.com/
The first reply was not harsh, but it was nonsensical.
Him: thanks spread the word please
After a week, I decided to reply again in hopes that I could make it more clear as to what I wanted to do for them.
Me: Now that the media buzz has died down a bit, I wanted to discuss my previous email. I fell in love with your nonprofit and wanted to do something for it. As a college student, I don’t have money to give but I have web design skills. I did my best to improve your current website (http://www.lighthouserestorations.org/) by making a mock website (http://executionrocks.wordpress.com/) that can be worked on and improved to your liking. If you like it, I am willing to work with you to move it to your current website domain.
The second reply was not harsh either, just a bummer to hear after completely redoing their website on my own. But that’s entirely my fault for making a website before getting the go ahead.
Him: Thanks but no thanks
Prepared to be done with this all, I wished them luck and went on with my life.
Me: That’s all I wanted to hear! Good luck with your nonprofit! It’s truly a great project
Until of course I got a reply suggesting that I pay them after they declined my offer when I (twice) clearly wrote that I was a college student who “didn’t have money to give but wanted to help.”
Him: make a donation, we don’t take salaries!
Deflated, I made it known that, short of declining, I hadn’t understood their replies.
Me: Im sorry sir, you’ve literally made no sense to me. Good day.
And the fun begins. I received one of the most rude and genuinely heartbreaking emails of my life, bashing my intellect and writing me off. The bold sentence was not bolded by me. I decided not to engage them, seeing that I was clearly an amusement for them. Perhaps they thought I was a scammer and they had the upper hand. Well. If that’s the case, they’re sure missing out…
Him: what word don’t you understand? we are and state and federal non profit dedicated to restoring the lighthouse! we volunteer to restore this historic structure. our website works fine. you have no idea whether or not our traffic and press has slowed down or sped up! how many times do you think we were in the press? once on some blog? “literally no sense” is a state of mind foreign to me thank God my 36 year old son doesn’t have problems with comprehension! good luck to you
In the end, what did I get from this? Nothing but a somewhat decent site for my portfolio and a lovely story to tell about some rather mean people.