The Joy of Pro Bono Partnerships

Posted on Nov 20, 2019 by

Thanksgiving Day is deeply rooted in our national history and social culture and very shortly we will gather with family and friends to give thanks and express gratitude for our blessings. Traditionally celebrated in late November, Thanksgiving also comes at a time when many of us are wrapping up planning for 2020 budgets and programs.

In a culture where so many have so much, it is also a time to be mindful of those who for one reason or another are struggling, and it provides all of us in business the opportunity to do something “more” for the community. As you plan your marketing budgets for the upcoming year, consider adopting a pro bono partnership with a nonprofit organization. It has many benefits:

  • A pro bono partnership provides the opportunity to exercise your craft without constraint. Helping organizations by donating time and talent lets you work with clients who are eager to experiment and explore new and unique ways to engage with the public and improve community awareness – ultimately increasing friends and funds.
  • Pro bono work can provide a great training platform for employees to break in new skills and talents – often launching them into a clearer understanding of the impact their work eventually provides – it also offers the opportunity to stretch your company’s skillset in innovating new marketing solutions.
  • Often, as individuals we feel there is nothing we can do to make real change – for a business, pro bono work, whether through providing services and/or products offers the opportunity to in some small way foster positive change by “helping others help others”.

Speaking for ourselves, we find great satisfaction in knowing that in an era with so much negativity, our work with pro bono clients – our small acts of kindness – do make a difference. Most recently we wrapped up working with Fox Valley Literacy, an organization whose mission is to share the power of learning to transform lives and enrich the community by providing both Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning through trained volunteer tutors. We supported several of their critical fundraising initiatives, including helping to rebrand the organization’s most significant community event. We provided much-needed design, branding, PR, and marketing communications services, and also attended the event. In the end, we knew we had made a difference after hearing from the Fox Valley Literacy team that our partnership helped them achieve their goals.

Throughout our 65 years in business, we have made it a regular part of our business plan to work with a broad cross-section of organizations, recognizing that even as a smaller business it is a powerful way for us to give back to our community. Supporting a pro bono partnership is simple:

  1. Survey your employees and determine what organization(s) they would most like to support; you can manage a variety of causes from year to year to ensure the majority of employee voices and interests are heard. Be sure employees understand their contribution is for their time and talent.
  2. Confirm that prospective candidates are registered non-profit organizations. Our policy is to provide our time and talent at no charge with the organization covering any hard costs. Before you make a commitment, make sure everyone clearly understands and agrees to the partnership scope/expectations.
  3. Create a team and give them the time and resources to build a productive and effective relationship with the organization. Treat that relationship as you would any paying customer or client, with accountability, reporting, and respect.
  4. Recognize the efforts of your nonprofit team – they are usually working above and beyond their normal daily demand, and for very altruistic purposes. While they engage at this level because they believe in what they are doing, it is still nice to inform the entire company what the team has accomplished.

As you plan for 2020, try to include time, talent and/or product support for a charitable cause – large or small – or work in partnership with another organization to meet a community need. It gives you visibility, generates awareness and enhances the mission for the organization, and is a benefit to the community at large. Best of all, at the end of the day, you will feel great about it. Happy Thanksgiving!


To learn more about BrandDirections or starting a pro bono partnership, please contact us at