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Pro Bono – Is It Good for the Giver?

Pro bono – for the public good. But is what’s good for the public also good for the giver?

At KK BOLD, we believe the answer is “yes.” We also believe other organizations considering pro bono work might appreciate a tip or two on this topic. So here goes … this is what we’ve learned from our experience over time, plus a few other nuggets we’ve picked up along the way – that’s right, there’s even BONUS info in this blog post!

When considering work for a pro bono client, KK BOLD determines if:

  • The non-profit’s goals are a good match for agency expertise. In other words, can we deliver what they need?
  • The person representing the organization is the decision maker. We’d hate to burn up a pro bono budget on a complicated decision-making process.
  • The prospective client has a real passion for their work. Enthusiasm is contagious, and we want our team to enjoy the process.
  • The organization will welcome our creativity and expertise. One of the benefits of pro bono marketing work is the opportunity for an agency to spread its creative wings.
  • The organization has the human resources, either staff or volunteers, to sustain what we help them build. If, for example, we develop a website for the group, can someone be trained to maintain it? Sustainability and realistic expectations need to be considered.

Beyond assessment of prospective pro bono clients, however, an organization considering philanthropic work should look at a number of internal factors as well. Here are just a few of the questions to ask:

Is the selection process objective? If, for example, a senior officer has a-l-w-a-y-s volunteered for XYZ non-profit, it’s not realistic to expect employees to jump on the bandwagon with the same fervor. There’s a lot to be said for the camaraderie that develops when your team helps a group build its brand together.

What impact would a relationship with this client have on the agency? In short – avoid politics and religion. Externally, there’s a significant risk if clients identify your company as right or left-leaning. Internally, these are personal choices that may create divisiveness among employees.

Will employee expectations be in lieu of or in addition to? How will this project affect workloads? If enough time isn’t carved out of the typical 8-to-5 schedule, pro bono work becomes an individual commitment as much as an organizational one. The best intentions can turn sour if a work-related project cuts into personal time.

Will you grow together? It can be a win-win when a business does good work for a non-profit. Your company already may have a good public image, but helping a non-profit succeed can cement your corporate identity in the public and in the business community.

Can pro bono work impact employee recruitment? Never underestimate the importance of social consciousness in a competitive marketplace. Companies that play an active role in community life demonstrate a commitment to the future.

Now that you’ve read our top 10 tips, we’d appreciate hearing from you. Do you agree? Disagree? Have other points to add? If so, please share your perspectives in the comment section below.

First, though, we ask you to think about pro bono work from the perspective of the client. Like Mom always said, “Walk a mile in their shoes.” The non-profit group is taking quite a risk when they sign on to this type of arrangement.

That brings to mind another of Mom’s pearls of wisdom – be a gracious giver. Remember to say “thank you” for the trust the group is placing in your organization and the opportunity to serve the recipients of their services.

Debra Anderson is the public relations director for KK BOLD and wrote this entire blog article pro bono. Mainly because she wasn’t paid anything for it.

Comments (2)

Pro Bono is an absolute in all businesses. As a professor, my philosophy is if I have the means, I have the obligation to give back. The servant-leader is one always willing to serve others. The only thing they get in return is what they get out of the experience. I agree that you have to have something to offer the organization in a quality way. I believe it can help with recruiting talented people if the organization empowers people to find a way to give back. Continue to go boldly!

Thank you for your thoughtful insight, Karel!

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