How to donate the services of a computer programmer to charity

I was wondering if there were ways to offer my services as a computer programmer to charity. I am not thinking of the myriad open source projects, but rather, would the Red Cross or Doctors without Borders or whatever need a programmer for anything?


Of course - it’s just a matter of finding the organization that needs your help.

A few places to start - your local United Way and your local community foundation. Both should have information of orgs needing help - and if they don’t, they’ll know of the local publication that these organizations read (in Indianapolis, it’s a weekly e-mail that consolidates a great deal of needed information, including items and services for donation).

I don’t know where you are, but I can tell you that in Illinois, “services” per se cannot be “donated”. You can, however, become a volunteer in that capacity for your chosen charity. If the ones you want to help are anything like mine, they are desperate for someone to come in and clean up their network, and get their computers working more sympatically!

If you’re looking for something to write off, then you’ll have to donate equipment you’ve refurbished (whether it was already theirs or not if you know what I mean) or work out a way to “bill” them without them having to actually pay you.

How are “‘services’ per se cannot be donated” and “work out a way to bill them without them having to actually pay you” compatible? That’s exactly how you donate your services.

Just to be clear, I am a programmer, not a network or systems admin. I can write software, but I would be pretty useless trying to clean up anyone’s network. I just don’t know if there is a need for that. I am not looking to write anything off. I live in Austin, Texas, BTW.


You might take a look at VolunteerMatchor the AmeriCorps. Note that both are mostly geared towards youth/entry-level volunteer jobs. I searched briefly for you and didn’t find much of interest, but maybe you’ll have better luck with different keywords.

Also, have you tried contacting the Red Cross or DWB directly? I know the Red Cross advertises for volunteers across a number of channels and if you find a contactperson for a similar enough position (e.g. for any IT volunteer job), you might be able to ask them about higher-level programming gigs.

I think what he means is that donated services cannot be written off as a tax deduction. The logic is that since you didn’t earn income from the services, there’s nothing to deduct the lost income from. In essence, it’s a wash from the financial point of view.