In the 1998 Friends episode, The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS (S5/E4), Joey argues that “selfless good deeds don’t exist.” Typical Friends hilarity ensues as Joey’s “gauntlet” statement prompts Phoebe to search for one kind act that she doesn’t benefit from or feel good about.
I would argue that—in the end—if both parties are happy with the outcome(s), it doesn’t matter whether a good deed is selfless or not. That’s why I’m a big fan of doing pro bono work on a regular basis; it’s a deposit in the “Bank of Karma,” which is never a bad idea.
Pro bono projects are a great way to help others while investing in your company’s marketing and public relations efforts. There is certainly no shortage of nonprofit organizations that need outside assistance in a variety of areas, especially from creative professionals. So, go ahead. Invest in your marketing karma by helping organizations that may be time or budget challenged. You’ll enjoy these benefits:
1. Showcase Your Company
Pro bono projects are a great way to increase your company’s visibility by showcasing your skills or products. At the beginning of the project, discuss with the “client” what promotion you will receive for your donation of time and talents. Consider logos on signage, brochures, websites, and others, mentions and links on social media posts, invitations to events, table at an expo, verbal acknowledgement from the podium, promotional item or products in a swag bag, etc. Get creative on ways to recognize your valuable time and expertise.
2. Generate New Business
Beyond showcasing your company, your involvement in a pro bono project could lead directly to profits. Exposure to new customers, decision makers, industries, etc. may generate new business through the quality of your work.
3. Sharpen Your Skills
Working with a new organization may introduce you to new skills or help you hone existing skills. For example, early in my freelance career, I learned some basic design skills by helping a nonprofit with a website banner. Those design skills were further enhanced when I volunteered to be the editor of my church newsletter, which evolved into a paid project (revenue!). Additionally, if you run a small business, working on a pro bono project can also fill ebbs in your workflow and help build your new business pipeline. It keeps you feeling productive while you look for the next “paid gig.”
4. Build Your Portfolio
The free work you do for your “client” is work that you can promote—on your website, through social media, at parties, with new and existing clients, at networking events, and many other places. You look like a “superhero” and it boosts your portfolio of work.
5. It Feels Good to Do Good.
When I googled “benefits of volunteering,” do you know how many results showed up in 0.72 seconds?!? 86.3 million! Articles ranged from addressing the health (mental and physical) benefits of doing good to social benefits (meeting new friends) and nearly everything in between. So, when you need a shot of “I feel awesome!”, find a project to get involved in.
As it proudly states in my bio,” I donate my communications expertise, time, and services to several charitable causes and organizations.” I challenge you to find a pro bono project and begin reaping the benefits of investing in your marketing karma.