Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Note to Non-Profits

Non-profits are feeling the squeeze today. Less money being donated. Less volunteering.

There is one thing that a non-profit can do to help itself: learn how to solicit for pro bono work.

A newspaper interviewed me a couple years ago on this and afterwards I got overwhelming support for this from non-profits. I share the highlights here.

My marketing communications, LaBov and Beyond, had been solicited on a weekly basis from dozens of non-profits looking for free work from us. Most made a critical mistake:

The non-profits acted like clients offering a million dollar a year worth of work--they sent rfps (requests for proposals). In many cases, they asked for speculative creative. Big mistake.

If you're a non-profit and need help, do this instead:

Decide which firm you would ideally like to do the free work
Approach that firm one on one, telling them why and how much you appreciate their work
Promise to allow that firm a chance to do great work
Promise to promote the firm in any way possible for the great work
Promise to allow the firm to become part of your organization (attend Board meetings, events, etc.)
Promise not to pit the firm against other firms--demonstrate loyalty
Promise not to take them for granted

If non-profits do this, they may just get a great firm that will be excited to do great work for a great cause. And they can avoid the nonsense of bidding and rfp-ing and posturing, all of which is a waste for all involved--including the non-profit.

My firm will not participate in competitions to do free work--no matter the cause. We also review all our non-profit relationships on a yearly basis and will consider adding to (or changing) our list of pro bono work only once a year (we have a form that non-profits fill out as to their needs and dreams). We work with non-profits and have great relationships with them and we help their worthy causes, which is what it should be all about--not answering rfps and doing speculative work.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

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