martinibuster - 6:59 am on Sep 23, 2010 (gmt 0)
>>> i would say that Google doesn't value them as highly because...
There's more at work than being in the footer. The footer discounting is a recent refinement to a much larger set of PR discounting, that's just something new that's been recently discussed. There is more going on, a lot more, to discount links. The foundation of that goes back many years. The footer thing is merely a small refinement of the overall discounting of links. There is more going on.
About seven years ago someone from Google at an SES conference stated that Google was discounting links from unrelated sites. She said they were passing LESS PageRank based on relevance of one site to another. This was about the time that the toolbar PR of web design companies started sinking, indicating that the "designed by" links were counting for less. This statement also preceded Update Florida [webmasterworld.com] by a few months. Update Florida [webmasterworld.com] was, as I recall, the rocky implementation of a new approach to relevance that has been continually refined to this day.
It's not just being in the footer that may cause a discounting of the amount of PR flowing. That's is just one of the latest refinements in the discounting they have been doing for many years. That's why I stated in my previous post that those links will likely not help.
As for pro-bono, I still don't think that is a valid excuse for doing something that may possibly undermine the SEO work that was done for them. A site that is the recipient of pro-bono work can still be valuable as a business reference.