It's time for another real-life business case. This story comes from our own business, so we have changed all identifying details to protect the parties. Some details we have had to distort completely -- we don't want anyone being identified by our story, which has an important point, we promise. Read on.
A colleague from a faraway country recently referred some business to us (our colleague consented to this blog post), and we started communicating with the very nice direct client. We quoted on a mid-sized project and waited for confirmation. A few days after that, we received an e-mail from an organization that is closely associated with our client. For simplicity's sake, let's call our client Green Juice and the other organization we'll call the Association for the Protection of Patagonian Penguins (APPP)*. In a very nice e-mail message, APPP told us that Green Juice strongly prefers to work with vendors who support conservation efforts and who are members of APPP. We had to think about this for a minute. Was Green Juice, via APPP, telling us that we had to make a donation to APPP to land this translation project? It certainly appeared that's what was going on.
After some deliberation, we responded with a brief, friendly e-mail. We thanked APPP for protecting Patagonian penguins and mentioned that we support several animal rescue organizations in both the U.S. and Europe, and that we are also the very proud parents of a cat (Junia) and a dog (Luna), who were both adopted from shelters. Finally, we said that while we are happy to donate to worthwhile charitable organizations around the globe, we were simply not able to join new organizations to obtain specific, one-time business. Finally, we stated that we completely understood if Green Juice preferred to work with another qualified linguist who was a member of APPP. We left it at that and tried not to sound defensive (we think we succeeded).
Dear readers: What would you have done? We'd love to hear what you think. Perhaps we could have factored the cost of APPP membership into our price quote? It just didn't seem right, and sometimes you just have to decline politely and move on. Project update: Not surprisingly, we did not get this project. For the record: We are all about saving Patagonian penguins.
*APPP is a completely fictitious organization, as is Green Juice.