When clients from the small business and corporate sectors come to A-Train for strategic advice on how to maximize publicity for their companies, one of the most powerful suggestions we can offer is for them to give their services away. Yes—for free; providing your goods or services on a pro bono basis to deserving non-profits is one of the most productive and rewarding things your business can do. Not only does pro bono work build goodwill among organizations that may offer you paid business in the future, but your pro bono giving also creates genuine PR opportunities for your business to tell the world more about the good works you do for your community. Read on to learn how to activate your pro bono giving potential and how to leverage its PR value for maximum impact.
How do you figure out what services to give away, how much to give, and where your gifts will be truly meaningful? The answer is in the essence of the people, project, and cause at hand. When selecting recipients of pro bono services, our goal is to first understand what they need and then accurately assess budgets so we can determine what makes financial sense for the organization in terms of investing in marketing or other services. Although we are temperate with what we give away, when it makes sense on levels benefiting both parties, it’s a reasonable endeavor and one that usually yields long term results for both businesses. First ask, do you WANT to give away services? And then, WHY do you want to do this? Giving for the sake of giving, so you can rest easy at night, is not the right reason to hand over free services. Giving so that you can truly benefit an organization and realize that giving not only feels good, but opens channels to you of networking, responsiveness from customers, and gives you community appeal aligns much better in terms of an overall giving strategy that works in the long term.
When determining if you should offer pro bono services in response to a solicited request or as a general offering to an organization, keep in mind the following:
- Will this service offering fit into the timelines and project load of your business and your team’s current work schedule effectively?
- Are there clear expectations and communication on both sides in terms of what is needed/wanted and what can truly be delivered? It is imperative to outline in detail the expectations of the organization and exactly what you’re doing for them – and when.
- Are you truly passionate about this organization and will it lead to more involvement as far as volunteerism from you/your team, further support, and/or paid business for you?
- How will this giving connect with your client base and your target market? Is it aligned with your brand, mission and values? Since there are so many amazing and worthy organizations to choose from, your decision must ultimately be based on what will move your consumers from brand loyalty to brand fandom.
- Will there be an exchange/reward/trade of some type once you have provided pro bono services? Examples of this would be sponsorship acknowledgement at events, tickets to activities/events, mention in newsletters, etc.
Now that your business is on board with pro bono giving and you’ve decided what to give and who will receive it, it’s time to execute your publicity. Follow the recommendations below to ensure your savvy leadership and pro bono giving gets the publicity it deserves:
- Social media – create your own PR by uploading pictures and concise statements that define the impact of your pro bono giving. Encourage recipients to use their own social media channels to share news and updates about how the pro bono project is impacting their organization.
- E-newsletter – use your next e-news publication to highlight pro bono work; not only will this get the word out to your clients but it will also help boost internal morale among employees who weren’t directly a part of the pro bono project.
- Press release – the media will cover good works that impact community, but only if they know about it. Send a short release that explains the basics: who will benefit, what you’re doing, when it’s happening, where it’s happening, why the project is important, and how you’re helping the recipient organization fulfill an important community need. You may consider issuing a press release jointly with the recipient, providing them.
Stay tuned for next month’s newsletter when we explore the how-to’s and benefits of receiving pro bono services!