The word ‘pro bono’ may seem nonsensical to some at a time when many businesses are scrutinising the bottom line – why on earth would you give up valuable time and resources for free?
But opting to work on a project that means something to your team or contributes to your local community can not only benefit your chosen cause but reap rewards for your own business, even if these are not directly financial.
PR, marketing and digital expertise is commonly cited as one of the key needs of not for profit organisations; they just don’t have the in-house resources to promote themselves effectively.
That’s why for a number of years now, we have worked with local charities and organisations, donating our services free of charge to help promote worthwhile causes close to our own values. Lighthouse Women’s Aid, our namesake Genesis Orwell Mencap and Suffolk MIND are among those we have supported. It’s our way of linking back to the community we work and, in many cases, live in.
Whilst donating money or sponsoring initiatives is of course a great way to get involved, there is something more rewarding and relevant about deepening your commitment and sharing your team’s talents with others who really need the support.
Cynics will always say, ‘there’s got to be something in it for you’, and of course there is. A pro bono project can really pull your team together and create a different working atmosphere. It’s when you’re passionate about a project that your best work often shows and this can in turn be shared with other clients.
You also never know who you will meet through these projects. Connections made and relationships built could lead to a referral from a board member who needs a new website or a volunteer who has recommended your social media services to their boss. It can be a great way to showcase what you can do without a hard sell.
It is of course important not to overpromise. It’s easy to get carried away, especially by projects you feel strongly about, but we all still have our day jobs to do and workloads to juggle.
All pro bono work should be treated the same way as a paying client which means working to your highest standards but also setting parameters. Each cause deserves to receive your best work, not a last minute effort because you’ve stretched yourself too thinly.
Our latest pro bono client is Ipswich based charity Families In Need (FIND) which provides food, household items, furniture and bedding to families and individuals affected by poverty. It’s a cause that has captured the enthusiasm of our whole team and over the next 12 months, we will be putting our energies into helping FIND raise funds for a new food bank and furniture warehouse in the town.
Without wishing to sound all do-goodery, at a time when the world appears more fragmented by the day, it’s important to focus on what we can all do, not matter how small, to create united communities that work together and support each other. We all have skills that can benefit others so why not share yours?