Home – New Forums Marketing mastery Pro bono work, do you do it?

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  • #982739
    Joel Krause
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    Hey Guys,
    As you may (or may not?) know, I’m quite new to business and it all started last year when I was offering to do websites for cheap (or in all cases free), one client I picked up has been awesome, so I do the website and what-not for nothing (it’s a community event).

    If you’re in the professional services industry, do you offer pro bono work to some clients?

    It’s quite a controversial topic!

    Cheers,
    Joel

    #1138517
    bridiej
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    No.

    A couple of years ago I did some free work in exchange for a link on the person’s website, but it ended up being a PITA so I canned it and vowed never again.

    I can understand how it might be appealing, especially in the early days, but I personally would give it a wide berth. Even when something is offered for free/next to nothing people expect to be able to demand what they want/when they want it and don’t value the hard work that goes in.

    JMHO 😮

    #1138518
    Sydney Business
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    In some cases doing things for free can be damaging to the industry as a whole and it shows little value for your knowledge and skills.

    I understand that a community based service or a not-for-profit comany may be a positive choice as a free client but all other businesses I would see as a smart choice.

    The choice is yours but don’t devalue what you and the industry as a whole have to offer.

    #1138519
    Joel Krause
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    I certainly wouldn’t do it again.

    While it gave me an extra project to put in my portfolio (which is good), I do have overheads that I need to pay and can’t be spending all my time working on the low-cost/free projects.

    Appreciate your feedback guys! :)

    Cheers,
    Joel.

    #1138520
    James
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    The possibility of a good professional relationship is so unbelievably low in these situations that it is just not viable.

    Somehow it has become acceptable for people to pitch a design project as ‘perfect for students’ or ‘will look good in your portfolio’.

    I do sympathise with the budgets of some start-ups so I endeavour to help where I can.

    Many don’t realise how easy it is to build their own website and just pointing them in the right direction is helpful. The resources we encounter in our day-to-day work are just not known to the mainstream.

    Just by being helpful and sharing these resources you will find many people are just as likely to become an ambassador for you and your business as if you’d built the website yourself.

    Then you can use the time you would have spent doing fruitless work to really push your marketing and get your name out there.

    #1138521
    ScopeDrafting
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    I have done it in the past – and would do it again. It has been for charity groups or schools.

    But I treat them as any other client, that is, I provide a fee proposal, which includes everything I do and don’t do as well as the price I would normally charge with a 100% discount. It also includes an hourly fee for any items that are extra from what is agreed. This way it is clear I am providing something of value and it is not a free for all.

    I also do not enter it expecting any pay off from promotion or good will etc. As it does not happen. This means I accept there is no payoff except for the personal satisfaction of lending a hand.

    Nathan

    #1138522
    Wonderdog
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    As a freelancer, I am free to charge what I want for a job. There are some people who I do work for in exchange for services, and some that yes, I do pro bono work for because I can see their need. By the same token, I have had a couple of people do work for me, or help me, for free, because they could see I was starting up, and needed the help.

    I have been burned by this, certainly, and it is something I do less and less of, but, sometimes it is better to do work for free, knowing there could be a pay off at a later date, then deny yourself the opportunity.

    #1138523
    James Millar
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    It seems to create two problems. Firstly, because the provider is not being paid they don’t treat the project with the same degree or importance and skill. Secondly, the consumer tends not to value the service as much (or at all) because they haven’t had to fork out for it. A lose lose outcome by anyone’s measure.

    Helping build better businesses and better lives with expert financial and taxation advice. [email protected] www.360partners.com.au 03 9005 4900
    #1138524
    The Copy Chick
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    ScopeDrafting, post: 158137 wrote:
    I have done it in the past – and would do it again. It has been for charity groups or schools.

    But I treat them as any other client, that is, I provide a fee proposal, which includes everything I do and don’t do as well as the price I would normally charge with a 100% discount. It also includes an hourly fee for any items that are extra from what is agreed. This way it is clear I am providing something of value and it is not a free for all.

    I also do not enter it expecting any pay off from promotion or good will etc. As it does not happen. This means I accept there is no payoff except for the personal satisfaction of lending a hand.

    I’ve also done this for a couple of charities. I donated $1000 of copywriting services as a door-prize for an event supporting the Heart Foundation, and have written website copy for a local charity raising funds to build homes for adults with mental disabilities who need some support, but can self-care to some degree.

    For each project I costed a full proposal and set limits on what was and wasn’t included, then invoiced with a 100% discount. I was happy to help these groups and will probably find another charity to support when I have a bit more spare time up my sleeve.

    I think the trick is setting the guidelines and sticking to them.

    #1138525
    PRO
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    With Lawyers we are expected to. We even have Pro Bono clearing houses to organise it.

    I do free legals for some community sporting groups. Others I know do it for those down on their luck or through community legal centres.

    #1138526
    Ondetto
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    I’ve done a couple of pro bono websites in the hope of building my network and getting some PR out of it. However, there was no formal agreement as to what exactly they were going to do for me in return, and so I did not end up benefiting from it. As some of the others here have said, if it’s free, people don’t seem to value it very much, even if a lot of work has gone into it.

    In the future, if I agree to do anything for free for a charity, it will be solely to support their cause without the hope of getting anything in return.

    #1138527
    Shaukat Adam Khalid
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    Only free advice. Not the actual work. For example, i share with some non profits on how to create lead generation websites, get donations on direct debit, attract influential people to join the committee, fund raise, etc.

    I dont seek business but i get to test new strategies without worry of “refunds or complaints”.

    #1138528
    The Copy Chick
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    Ondetto, post: 158282 wrote:
    In the future, if I agree to do anything for free for a charity, it will be solely to support their cause without the hope of getting anything in return.

    That’s the only reason I’ll do it. If something comes back from it, then all well and good, but I don’t like to go in with that expectation (because it’s not really ‘free’ then).

    #1138529
    Louise M
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    Good question Joel. Since my business is fairly new too, I was wondering about that myself. By the sounds of the replies it looks like it’s a bit of a hit and miss as to whether it works out for businesses or not.

    I have only done free work for my brother’s work so I’m not sure if you can include that as pro bono since it was family. On my first ever job I did agree on a much more discounted rate than normal, however it fitted the circumstances plus I knew there was a good chance of getting further work where I could charge my normal rate due to the other companies that my client worked with. Fortunately this did actually end up happening. However, in regards to that first client, even though it was at a large discounted rate, we did agree that any jobs that I took on for him after that would be on my regular rate.

    That’s a good idea though where a few people have said to invoice with the full rates, but include a 100% discount. I’ll be taking that on board if I do any work for charities, etc. Thanks everyone.

    Louise.

    #1138530
    Zava Design
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    Actually working on 2 pro-bono projects now, which is perhaps a little too much non-billable time, but giving back a little is important I think.

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