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Do you “pro bono”?

June 1, 2011

It’s a mayhem! I am overwhelmed by pro bono  projects, literally overwhemed by projects that I know since I accepted them that they won’t be driving a dime into my pockets… this makes me think: is it right to give in to pro bono projects? when is the case to accept and when, instead, is the case to kindy deny, for your business’ sake? Working pro bono, is it always a loss?

I personally believe that most of the times it is… but some times, though, working pro bono can be very fruitful and convenient (!).

I think we must extremely clear on the matter: YOU CAN’T RUN A GRAPHIC DESIGN FIRM AS YOU WOULD RUN A NO-PROFIT FUNDATION! Said this, I think there wide margins where to accept pro bono projects can generate a relevant positive feedback, in terms of pubicity and experience.

When should we accept a pro bono project?

Actualli I don’ have a rule of my own, but recently I read something about and I thought that that could work out fine:

Say YES to a pro bono when:

  • it is possibe to forecast your cashflow few months in advance
  • your billable hours reached at least the 60% of the amount you expect to bill in one year
  • the year goals are met
  • .the cause is truly outstanding and meaningful – and here a lot is left to sensitivity

DON’T FORGET: when you work pro bono you must ensure the same care for details that you would ensure when paid.
When the project is complete, take the habit to bill the client anyway – of course apply a 100% discount. It might seem a waste of time, but if you do so, you will undeniably state the entity of your commitment and the client will be abe to appreciate even more the decision you took to work for free.

ALWAYS ask for sample of your work to pubicize your firm and make sure you sign the pieces you produce – publicity is usually what you get for working pro bono (but it’s not bad at all!). Since publicity will be your money, make sure you will make the most out of it, don’t let sit those posters and those invitation cards you worked on for free at the bottom of a drawer in your studio.

Last but least, assuming that the proper ratio and the necessary enterpreneur skills have been call to act, let your heart decide whether take or not the project, otherwise why in the hell we love so much what we do?!

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