I recently posted a blog entry about the benefits of pro bono work. I posted the blog as a discussion topic on one of my LinkedIn forums and got a lot of interesting feedback as to why PR professionals should take on pro bono work. Here are just a few of the responses:
“Many of my pro-bono clients have hired me later. Even if they don’t, they often provide great resume entries. In return for my work, I typically get letters of recommendation, introductions to valuable networking contacts, enthusiastic referrals to other potential clients, and an opportunity to demonstrate my commitment to improving our community and nation by supporting a worthy cause.”
“I usually choose to work pro bono in an industry that I want to learn more about. I always let the client know that I haven’t worked in that industry and we experiment together. I have gotten paid work from it – and it is a lot of fun.”
“And pro bono work often means an opportunity to be a bit more creative than usual, not having a client’s constraints.
“In good times, we did not have to scrutinize our charitable giving or employee perks… But in these economic times, we’ve really had to think through what we could afford to give and still be able to make a difference.”
One of the things about an economic slowdown is it gives you more time to think about developing your business and evaluating what’s important for growth, including where where to commit your free time and resources. Some companies are increasing their charitable programs because they keep staff busy and focused. John, for example, uses the work Gumas Advertising does for the San Francisco Giants Community Fund as a focal point to pump up the staff and get their creative juices flowing. Gumas has been working for the Giants for a long time (as the memorabilia in John’s office attests) and having more time available means the agency has more opportunity to give back to the San Francisco community. For John, this is part of his philosophy of corporate karma, ““When you are doing the right things for the right reasons, good things will come of it.”
So when the going gets tough, maybe it’s time to give more back to the community. As the New York Times article points out, in tough times every company is being asked to give more, and many are coming new creative strategies that can have a bigger impact at lower cost. I was recently asked to contribute to a fund-raising event and instead, I offered by services to help with promotion. It was a small gesture but it’s the kind of support that non-profits need these days, and it doesn’t have to cost you a cent.