10 tips for Marketing & PR professionals to benefit from donating services

Public relations and digital marketing professionals can benefit in many ways from donating their services pro bono – that is, at no cost — to not-for-profit organisations. While lawyers and accountants typically come to mind when people think of pro bono work, both PR agencies and individual PR and marketing consultants frequently help nonprofits or other charitable causes. After all, nonprofits need to publicise how they hope to solve problems or fulfill their missions e.g. spreading the word about inclusive work practice.

To clarify, pro bono work means providing specialised PR or marketing expertise and differs from performing non-specialised volunteer work.

During the Covid-19 epidemic, some PR agencies have offered free consultations to small businesses and pro bono news writing and distribution services. What is missing is seeing marketing pro bono work in action!  PR organisations PR volunteers have also worked to promote reliable information and counter Covid-19 misinformation. For instance, PWN Global created a Coronavirus support weekly call filled with the latest virtual event training information and important resources on transitioning from live to virtual events. 

In providing pro bono PR or Marketing services, some agencies do not charge for their services, but pass through service costs they incur, such as the cost of news release distributions. Others donate their time and also absorb out-of-pocket cost of PR pr Marketing services. Both the agency and the organisation should have an upfront and detailed understanding of their arrangement, preferably in writing. The agreement should include a term of service e.g. 1 year. 

These are seven ways PR agencies,marketing agencies, PR or event consultants, staff of these departments and entrepreuers/ consultants working on their own can benefit from performing pro bono work.

Reason 1. Expand your network.

You’ll probably meet business professionals and community leaders when you serve on a nonprofit’s committee or board.  Hoever as a pro bono partner , you are still developing relationships with them and demonstrating your skills and talents, you can find new contacts and recommendations that lead to securing new clients. In addition, PR pros and marketing agencies can win favorable publicity if the nonprofit publically thanks them on social media, on its website or its event-related materials. To increase the chances of finding leads to new clients, help nonprofits or causes that fit with your targeted sector.

Reason 2. New business opportunities.

Pro bono work can lead to new clients, although that should not be its primary motivation.

Reason 3. Expand into new markets.

Working with a pro bono client just outside your niche can help you expand into a new area. For instance, if your niche is marketing or women in sports, you could perform pro bono work for a womens professional network and thereby expand the organisation in your community.

Reason 4. Sharpen skills.

Many PR and marketing professionals often perform the same tasks during their daily and weekly routines with same clients. PR or marketing bono work can allow you to expand outside your routine and try the latest tools, strategies and techniques. For instance, you may wish to gain experience in social media marketing, planning events, or building WordPress websites. If your day job doesn’t involve those activities, you can practice them during pro bono work.

Reason 5. Try Someing New

"Pro bono work may provide you with an opportunity to take on something totally new and develop a new skill,” writes PR consultant Tim O’Brien of O’Brien Communications in Muck Rack. “Because the beneficiary organisation isn’t paying you, there is less risk on their part for you to learn something new in a real-world setting.

Reason 6. Leadership experience for younger staff.

Junior staff members may not be ready to manage a paying client on their own, but they can safely learn about client service and gain confidence with a pro bono client.

Reason 7. Fulfill your positive impact contribution. 

Most or all business professionals try to contribute to their community to make it better. Some serve as coaches or mentors, others help cultural organisations; others serve on government committees or boards. All are worthwhile, but providing pro bono professional services is probably the most valuable service you can provide to your community. PR, marketing, social media, and event planning services are needed by most every non-profit organisation in town.

Reason 8. Gratification

Pro bono work provides a sense of satisfaction from knowing you made a difference in your community.

Personnel at PR agencies gain a sense of teamwork by rallying around a common cause. The sense of gratification boosts employee morale and helps attract and retain talent. Mueller Communications invested more than 1,372 work hours into nonprofits, with its employees serving on 21 boards of directors at local Milwaukee organisations.

 Reason 9. Choose pro-bono partners that matter to you 

Although pro bono accounts may cause less stress, they require all the attention and dedication that’s required to succeed on business accounts. Poor reviews or lackluster publicity will ultimately harm your attempts to build your reputation or gain new paying clients.

Address pro bono work with the same zest as fee-paying accounts. Create a written agreement that sets terms, develop a project plan and track results. Consult your tax accountant, as pro bono work may lead to tax deductions.

We suggest you carefully consider which causes to take on as pro bono accounts, and avoid becoming known only for pro bono or low-cost work. 

10. Align your goals

Consider how the nonprofit’s mission relates to your agency’s goals,Do they provide access to a niche market of professionals? Are they established in their brand and reputation ? E.g. PWN Global

What charitable objectives enthuse you and your team the most? 

How much time can you dedicate to pro bono work? Is it 3 workshops a year, 5 projects , 40 hours per annum . 

Continue to monitor time dedicated to pro bono accounts, and reconsider your strategy if it detracts from fee-paying work. 

The Director of United Events Global states that “Even as a fast paced yet young company, we’ve been able to balance pro bono and fee-paying work and use it to grow our reputation–and our client base,” Emma says. “When done in a strategic and measurable way, pro bono marketing or events work can lead to great things.”

To conclude, PR and marketing agencies, PR , Marketing solo entrepreneurs and event staff of organisations departments can gain many benefits from offering their services to nonprofits without charge. To develop beneficial relationships, it’s crucial to work with causes you believe in. PWN Global, with over 29 city networks and constant impact in accelerating gender balanced leadership, and supporting gender diversity campaigns to members and corporate partners provide a very syrong case for pro bono services.   Even though accounts provide no income, it’s essential for professionals to make a positive impact and contribute back to the business community or society. PWN Global is one not-for-profit currently calling out to establish such partnerships.  



Author: Emma Olohan, VP of PR & Fundraising 

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