Going pro bono is a win-win. An organization gains your expertise and talent at zero cost, and you gain more experience and positive exposure—not to mention a good feeling. Here’s how to go about it.
Here’s a simple but very effective strategy to maximize the impact of a ‘No Budget Marketing’ campaign you may create for your employer or your own business—harnessing the ‘Power of the Pro Bono’ or Strategic Volunteering.
Why volunteer at all?
Whether you’re marketing the products or services of your employer or your own business or just simply enhancing your image and value to the people you work for and with, the Power of the Pro Bono can be a simple, quick and no-cost self-marketing strategy. Effectively done, it can help accomplish several important goals for you, including:
• Creating positive exposure for yourself as a caring and giving professional or a very positive reflection on your employer;
• producing positive name recognition and credibility;
• creating tools that can showcase your skills if you produce a newsletter, brochure, video or event. You can even win awards for your work;
• helping you learn new skills or enhance existing skills in leadership, project management, social media, accounting, e-marketing, writing or presenting;
• making you feel very good about yourself by doing the right thing and helping out a worthy professional, civic or charitable group; and
• stroking your creative ego and professional self-esteem by being involved with something worthwhile, creative and fun.
How do you get started?
As they say, getting started is the hardest part. We’re helping you ease in by giving you the following five steps to beginning your pro bono journey.
Going Pro Bono Step No. 1: Clearly define your or your business’s value proposition. What do you do well that adds value to customers who will pay you for it at a profit?
Going Pro Bono Step No. 2: Determine those professional, civic or charitable groups where lots of your customers and prospects are actively involved.
Going Pro Bono Step No. 3: Search for linkages between that group’s needs for support, other than money or pure volunteer time, that relate to your value proposition. For a web design firm, that could be a website makeover. For a writer, it could be help with their brochure. For an accountant, it could be serving as a volunteer auditor.
Going Pro Bono Step No. 4: Reach out to each group and offer your services. It really helps if you’ve been an active member for several years rather than a stranger—yet another great reason to get involved with your profession or community.
Going Pro Bono Step No. 5: When your task is completed, ask for a ‘subtle’ acknowledgement: ‘Website designed by x’ at the bottom of the home page, ‘Brochure content and design courtesy of y’ on the back page of a brochure or a glowing letter of thanks from the group leader with reference in their routine member communication.
Where do you volunteer?
There are lots of effective platforms for strategic volunteer activity. Be creative and think outside of the usual box with the following ideas:
• Start with your own industry and the professional associations that support it. Those groups can probably use the help and you can benefit from all the good will you will gain from the experience.
• Other professional, business or civic groups you may belong to or where you’d benefit from the exposure. Start with COSE and your local Chamber.
• A charity or non-profit that has personal importance to your family, your boss, your boss’s spouse, the big boss, the big boss’s spouse, or an important customer.
What volunteer activities should you consider?
Strategic volunteer activities are “win-win.” The organization benefits from what you contribute, but you also benefit from what you learn or gain. What special skills or talents can you contribute and showcase beyond simply giving of your time? What skills do you want to learn or enhance? What will give you the kind of exposure you need and want?
If you want to enhance or showcase ...
Leadership or management skills: Manage an event or fundraiser, chair a committee or task force, hold an office or sit on a board
Writing skills: Edit the group’s newsletter, write articles for it, PR releases, promotional pieces or blog posts
Creative media skills: Coordinate the advertising or PR for the group a major event. Write or produce a video or media tool that helps them recruit members, raise money or train volunteers.
Graphic design skills: Design or improve their logo, letterhead, brochure or newsletter layout
Web design skills: Design or improve their website
Social media skills: Create blogs, their presence on leading social media sites, regularly post content.
Presentation skills: Deliver a presentation, emcee an event or serve on their speakers’ bureau or improve their PowerPoint presentations
Training or facilitation skills: Teach or facilitate classes or workshops for members or leaders
Financial skills: Serve as treasurer or audit their books
As you’ve seen, Strategic Volunteering through the Power of the Pro Bono involves simple, quick, no-cost and personally rewarding strategies to promote your image or the image of your employer. The organization wins because you give of your talent, not just your time or treasure. You win because you earn ‘Psychic Income,’ gain positive exposure and learn or enhance career-related skills.
So, begin volunteering strategically and see how it can add value to your ‘No Budget Marketing’ Tool Kits. It has worked well for me for over 25 years.
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, www.communicate-confidently.com, 440 449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.