How can SDM be free and other common questions!

Periodically we post answers to technical questions we are asked at the shop. This month, we are going to answer some of the common administrative questions that we are asked.

How can SDM be free?

The most common administrative questions are about the way SDM is funded. You can also find a bit about our history here.

SDM Foundation Inc is a corporation with a board of directors and a mission to teach people how to use technology. Our board has prioritized providing this service for free in order to make it as inclusive as possible. To do this, we use a portion of our endowment each year to pay for our staff and our shop.

Another priority of the SDM Foundation Board of Directors is to pay our staff a reasonable wage. Many nonprofits use substantial volunteer hours, but we choose not to do that. We consider ourselves lucky to have an endowment that allows us to support these priorities.

Our expectation is that we will continue to offer free services for the near future, but we recognize it will not be forever. We accept donations online, and in the future will decide how to bring in additional revenue.

SDM is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit, but that does not require us to provide our help without charge. A nonprofit must be run for the benefit of the population being served. It is not owned by any people, like a for-profit corporation. Being a nonprofit adds requirements related to spending a proportion of the money brought in, and restricts spending to mission related items.

When do you have lessons about xyz?

Other common administrative questions are about the lessons that we offer.

While SDM offers small group lessons from time to time, that is a very small percentage of the services we provide. Most of what we do is in the form of individual tutoring.

In nearly 100% of our appointments, a staff member works with an individual. They can work on the topics and at the speed that benefits the client. We find that this type of appointment is the most productive. Each SDM appointment is 50 minutes.

Sometimes people want to learn something according to a more structured plan. We do that too. There are lesson plans for many common topics that we can work our way through during these individual appointments.

People ask if we can provide certification or confirmation of lessons taken, but no, we do not do that.

Any topic, any time, at your pace – provided via individual appointments.

Picture of a person working on a wooden desk. Not needed for understanding the article.

Why can’t I choose who I work with at SDM?

We receive many common administrative questions about making appointments with a particular SDM associate.

Sometimes clients want to continue working with the same person over a series of appointments. At SDM you may request a particular associate, but we will not promise that your appointment will be with that person.

We understand that people might be comfortable with one associate, or they may want continuity if the lessons cross over appointments. We take this into account when assigning appointments to associates.

There are many aspects to assigning associates to appointments. They include who is available, who knows the most about the particular topic, what other appointments are happening at that time or throughout that day, which associates might have time off, and other responsibilities that each associate has.

At SDM we encourage our associates to continue their own education so that more of our associates can handle more types of question. One way to do this is to expose associates to different questions at appointments. Another way to do this is to have associates teach each other. Both of those require dedicated time.

SDM Associates work very closely as a team. We make sure that continuing work is noted so that another associate can pick up where the lesson left off. During appointments, we often ask for help from each other when we hit a stumbling block. Our focus is on helping every client.

We take into account a client’s request for a particular associate. It is not a reason to cancel an appointment if you aren’t assigned to that associate. This is the way that we have decided to provide our services. If you want to use our services, then you have to agree to these terms. We are happy to receive your request, we just won’t promise to accommodate it. We appreciate your understanding.

Do you have more common administrative questions?

If you have other questions, just call or email and we’ll be happy to assist you! If you have specific questions, or if our terminology isn’t clear, please use our contact form to send us a message. Thank you!

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