All You Have to Know About Pro Bono Consulting

Thursday, November 9, 2017

With the increasing interest in volunteering and social services, there are more and more companies and professionals who offer pro bono consulting. This is some work or service provided by an experienced individual in a particular field.

The key point of pro bono is that the service is free, so those who can’t normally afford it can get it without paying. Thus, pro bono gives people a chance to share their experience and contribute to the development of society. On the other hand, it lets those people who are struggling with some issues have a chance to solve their problems and move on.

What is the Difference Between Pro Bono Consulting and Volunteering?

Pro bono work is very similar to volunteer work, with some key differences.
Pro bono work is very similar to volunteer work, with some key differences.

If you are wondering about what pro bono consulting is, you might first consider that it is the same as volunteering. Even though they do have common features, they are still different.

The most important difference between pro bono and volunteering is that it is a service which is provided by a professional who would normally charge for that service. This service requires specific knowledge and a set of skills. Volunteers can do the job even if they are not qualified and new to a particular field. Even though both services are offered for free, pro bono is a service of a higher level. The reasons which encourage people to provide it might be similar to those making people decide to volunteer.

That's why those who do pro bono work are sometimes called skilled-based volunteers. They do professional work for free!

Still didn't figure out the benefits of volunteering? Don't worry as there are many different benefits from many contexts and perspectives. 

Pro bono is the most common in the sphere of law and social services. However, it also works within the healthcare sector. In many countries, lawyers are required to do a certain number of hours giving free services.

Benefits and Risks of Pro Bono Consulting

One of the main benefits of pro bono work is that you're serving the society and those in need.
One of the main benefits of pro bono work is that you're serving the society and those in need.

It is not solely the altruism which makes people decide to provide their services pro bono. It is not a secret that this kind of work is highly beneficial for both sides, the one offering the free service and the one receiving it. There is a vast discussion around this topic, and the interest in pro bono shows a significant growth today.

First of all, you can serve society and help those in need. You can make a difference by helping people overcome their difficulties. At the same time, you build your reputation, gain experience and increase your chances to develop your business. People who use your services may very likely become your future clients who will be willing to pay for your work in the future.

Moreover, they will be able to contribute to your image and help you attract more clients. Finally, each case is different, and each of them is another chance for you to develop and grow professionally, improve your performance and challenge yourself.

Offering pro bono services to clients is a great strategy to grow your business. Pro bono can give you an excellent opportunity to work with clients and tackle businesses you usually wouldn't work with. It's a great way to expose yourself to new audiences and to learn more.

Read more: Top reasons to become a pro bono volunteer!

However, there are some risks, too. If you are an ambitious entrepreneur dreaming of developing your business and building up your career, you will probably consider looking deeper into pro bono consulting. It is better to handle one pro bono client at a time and balance the amount of paying clients and those who are enjoying your services for free. If you have too many pro bono clients at a time, you might lose the existing clients due to the lack of time and attention to their cases.

It is also about reputation, of course. You would not want your business to be considered as a low-cost option, would you? It is great that you can find time for pro bono services, but if your company and your employees are suffering, it is a sign for you to think about your beliefs and policy again.

Not Every Project is Suitable for Pro Bono Consulting

While doing pro bono work, it is very important to carefully analyze the projects.
While doing pro bono work, it is very important to carefully analyze the projects.

Pro bono projects require careful analysis. It is important to take into account lots of factors, such as the date of completion and complexity of the project.

You might find it hard to be still working on some project after months while you’d assumed it would take weeks to complete.  

Looking for pro bono work, but also opened for traditional volunteering? Check out most reliable volunteering platforms where you can see the list of projects for a certain expertise/location.

That's why it's essential to define the scope of work so that both sides know what to expect. Analyzing what problem is being resolved, what services will you provide and what are the prerequisites for the success of the project are the things you should ask yourself before starting a collaboration with a client.

Always define these things on a contract!

That way, both sides will know what is being expected from them and you will avoid being used by a client.

But Every Industry Allows Pro Bono Consulting

Pro bono work is an awesome way to contribute to the local community.
Pro bono work is an awesome way to contribute to the local community.

No matter which sector you are working in you can always refer to pro bono consulting as a way to contribute to the development of the local community and each in particular. This is a great chance for you to crack the system which does not work for everyone and see people changing their lives. They will give you more than a thank you. They will provide you with a unique feeling of doing something valuable, and they will inspire you for something great.

Pro bono volunteering has so many benefits including cultural exchange and understanding cultural differences. It will give you the edge in a competitive business world. 

The other benefit of the pro bono consulting is, of course, an opportunity to promote your business and set it on the new level. Together with valuable experience it gives you and your team an excellent chance to earn a better reputation and with the help of your clients’ feedback build a more effective business.

How to Get Started?

Getting started with pro bono consulting

Now when you know more about pro bono consulting and how you can make a real difference using your professional skills, it's time to figure out how to jump into this world. 

If you're new to skill-based volunteering, it might be so much information at the same time, but don't worry since it's similar as starting a business with the client. Working on pro-bono won't fill your pockets, but you'll have many benefits for sure!

So how to get started with your first pro bono project?

#1 Ask yourself what specific skills you can offer to organization or client

First of all, you're an expert in a certain field! That means you have experience and samples of your previous successful projects. Don't think if the client looks for a pro bono professional that you can lack the skills or experience. Just look for the projects where you won't waste anyone's time and where you'll learn as much as possible while making a real difference in the world. 

#2 Find a suitable pro bono project

Once you figured out the skills you can provide to make projects successful, it's time to find suitable projects to work on. A few years back, it was very tricky and people could do pro bono work mainly through connections or referrals. 

Nowadays, thanks to the internet and multiple pro bono platforms, it was never easier to connect with the right organization or client. With each passing day there are more and more pro bono opportunities popping up, so don't jump onto the first project. Instead of rushing be selective!

#3 Set clear expectations, goals, and benefits for both sides

Alright, so by now you've already found an interesting pro bono project. It's time for details! Never skip details if you want to complete the project and actually get some benefits from it.

Too many people who're starting out with pro bono consulting simply don't put too much attention to details. What happens? So many misunderstandings can result in project failure or being unable to deliver the project. You don't want that!

Here's what you should do before starting with pro bono project:

  • make sure that the organization or client has a clear picture of your skills and expertise. Present yourself and tell them exactly what you can offer and how the project can benefit from having you as a professional on board. 
  • don't let anyone guess the amount of time you can invest or length of the contract.
  • be sure you're in close contact with the representative of organization or project leader. Don't hesitate to ask as many questions as needed as you want to have a clear picture in your mind before starting the project. 
  • once you have all the information, it's time to put everything on a paper! Many professionals suggest writing a document where you'll put all the important information from the notes above. Send it to an organization representative for a review and confirmation.
  • don't lose contact with the organization or client. Ask for feedback since it will hugely help your further professional career (if everything went well!).

Where to Find Amazing Pro Bono Volunteer Opportunities?

Finding a pro bono opportunity

As it's already said, finding a right pro bono opportunity has never been easier. Today, in a technology era, the information is easily accessible. There are many platforms that post many different projects and the need for professional skill-based volunteers.

The most reliable platforms with a huge list of projects are definitely Catchafire and Taproot. It's warm advice to check these two out and screen what kind of projects are out there and what skills are on demand.

If you'd like to know more about the platforms, simply head over Catchafire review or Taproot review!

Another amazing way to connect with the organizations or clients is simply outreaching NGOs that you already know or have some information about. Send them an email with the services you can provide and the skills you have.

Pro bono consulting is beneficial in all respects and by doing it you will find yourself growing professionally and your business thriving.

Adrian Sameli founder and editor of
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