Conversation

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How to Be a Good Pro Bono Client

One of our credos as a successful business is to give back to the community where we live and work. Promoting causes and organizations we care about, whose marketing needs are a good match for our talents, has given us some of our most rewarding agency experiences. Here are some ways that a pro bono client can make their project a win-win for everyone involved.

Plan ahead — way ahead.

We all know the saying about good, fast and cheap and not being able to have all three at once, right? If an agency has taken your pro bono project on, and if you’ve come to a reputable, credentialed group, you’re getting 2 out of 3. So, it’s best if you don’t expect quality free work to be fire-engine fast. Giving us time to plan gives us time to manage your stuff amongst paying client projects. It also gives us more time to be thoughtful about your project and enjoy doing some good work for you. Which leads us to…

Let us do our best work.

Our best work comes when we get a chance to strategize but also to play. The more you can be the “fun” pro bono project, the more likely an agency is to want to make some extra time to help out. So, if you’ve already followed the above advice and allowed ample time for us to explore solutions for your project, you’ve given us a chance to engage in both.

Our best work is not only created through a strategic process, but must also be nurtured (and protected) through a review process. Many non-profit causes are necessarily led by committees — but committee-led creative can often look like, well, a potluck of preferences rather than a clear, compelling message. A strong client contact who can corral their own stakeholders to keep the creative idea clear and on-course is crucial here.

Share results with us.

We’re outcomes-focused, meaning that we really do want to know that our work achieved measurable results for you. We might also want to do a case study of the project. Ideally, our work for you included our being able to define some metrics of success at the outset. So please be patient with us if we do happen to hound you for outcomes later. Your project may have been an opportunity for us to do some fun or beautiful design work, but also being able to share hard numbers completes the story.

Respect us in the morning.

Yes, we said yes, because we love you and believe in your cause. But just because we agreed to do it on the cheap doesn’t mean we can give it all away all the time. Please understand that sometimes because of other demands, we may have to say no. And if you do ever come into some funding, we always appreciate hearing that you thought of talking to us first.

Virginia Roth
By Virginia Roth President