I’m a big believer in doing pro bono work and have always made it a point to engage in multiple pro bono projects every year. At VIA, we work with Indie Memphis, One World Health, The Boys and Girls Club, and the Children’s Theater Festival among others. They’re great opportunities to share our resources and talents with the community and it just feels good knowing that the work is doing something positive.
But the upside of pro bono is way more than just feeling good about the work. It also makes you live longer. Yes – that’s right. Research shows that it can help reduce stress and that emotions associated with doing positive work for others can help strengthen the immune system. People who get involved in community projects tend to have lower mortality rates and lower rates of depression.
Not only can it actually make you healthier, these projects provide great opportunities for employees to try out new ideas or techniques. To stretch their creative legs. It’s also a great venue to get younger employees much needed experience.
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when engaging in a pro bono project:
- Communicate! It’s easy to have paying work push the pro bono project aside. Make sure to communicate clearly with the client throughout the process and set realistic expectations – timelines, hours your team can invest, etc. Even though they may not be paying, it’s important to treat your pro bono partner as you would any other client – the work is just as important to them as any of your other clients!
- Be Selfish! Determine what you need to get out of the project up front and say “no” if it’s not going to satisfy those needs. (I’m pretty sure altruism is only a concept and doesn’t exist in nature.) There are all sorts of reasons to do pro bono work, so make sure you’re benefitting as well. Besides, who wants to do free work and be pissed off about it whole time?
- Connect! Doing pro bono projects are a great way to connect with the community and see the world from a different perspective. Take advantage of that, you’ll be glad you did.
So, get out there and get involved. Find your pro bono partner(s) today!