Giving back to your community is more than being a nice guy (although that’s a pretty good reason). It makes good business sense, too. 85 percent of Americans think favorably of a company that supports a cause they care about. And small business owners are taking note. Seven out of ten give back by donating professional services. Here are some reasons why you should consider doing this pro bono work in your community.
- Stretches your skills – Pro bono work gives you a chance to apply your professional skills in another setting. You may need to brush up on subject matter that you don’t get to use everyday. That broadens your range. And you just might find a way to apply it in your own business.
- Helps to recruit employees – It’s not just consumers who are drawn to businesses that give back. So are potential employees. It helps them understand your company better. If you’re volunteering side-by-side, you also get a chance to observe potential candidates’ skills first-hand and see how they work with others.
- Builds strong communities – Organizations help to develop the infrastructure of a community. They might develop job skills, provide literacy training, or foster healthy families. Each of these attracts new people (and new dollars) to the area. That can help to increase the market for everyone.
- Provides a forum for networking – A by-product of volunteering is meeting others who have similar philanthropic interests. Board members of the organization are often influencers in their respective companies. By observing how you apply your professional skills, they may be interested in working together on other projects.
- Supports the heart – A Carnegie Mellon University study reports that adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high-blood pressure than non-volunteers. It’s thought to be linked to stress reduction.
- Offers activity during slow periods – If you are between projects, have excess capacity or are experiencing some down time, pro bono work may help fill in the gaps. It gives you an opportunity to keep your skills sharp. And you can add the product of your pro bono work to your portfolio. Use it in your next pitch to a prospective client.
- Affords a chance to try out a new idea – Have an idea that you want to experiment with before rolling it out in your own business? This may give you an opportunity. For example, say you want to offer a new menu item in your restaurant. Serve it at an organization’s fundraiser first to get feedback.
Volunteering your professional services with pro bono work offers an opportunity to serve your community. And in the process, it also offers advantages to help grow your small business.