When you are focused on building your business, offering services for free may sound like it should be at the top of your What Not To Do list. After all, why give away what you can charge for? However, while pro bono work does not bring in money, it can have a plethora of other important benefits that should not be overlooked.
"Pro bono" is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase "pro bono publico," which means "for the good of the public." Although the main goal of pro bono work is to help others, you should not go into it with the assumption that you, your employees or your company will not benefit in any way, because that simply is not the case. Depending on the cause you choose, your commitment to providing services for free will not only feel good, but will also create opportunity for publicity for your business and put you in contact with like-minded prospects who would not otherwise have been aware of who you are and what you do.
Pro bono work can also be personally edifying, an effect that should not be taken lightly. Numerous studies have shown that extremely engaged employees feel more motivated and have higher rates of productivity. Doing pro bono work can be good for your workers, and encouraging their involvement reflects well on you as an employer.
In an article for Bloomberg Businessweek, Mike Sheehan, CEO of advertising agency Hill Holliday, expanded upon the idea of encouraging employees to showcase their talents, develop themselves professionally and give back to the community.
"A genuine commitment to pro bono work tells your employees what kind of company you are and helps to define your company's relationship to the community," Hill writes. "For employees, being involved in these projects can be a chance for professional development and a source of personal satisfaction and pride."
Choosing a cause
Once you decide to launch philanthropic efforts, the next step is to zero-in on how exactly you want to help. With no shortage of worthy causes to support, it may be tricky to narrow down the list. Consider the resources you're able to dedicate to the task and how closely your expertise matches the needs of potential recipients.
Although providing services free of charge does not help companies make money, pro bono work is a great way to leverage your organization's talents and make workers feel empowered and motivated.