Recently, 300 plumbers installed water filters and faucets for the city of Flint. The faucets came from their local union, but the time was all theirs. They said they saw a need and wanted to give back to the community, and they did. In fact, they’re still donating time, materials and knowledge to help the people of Flint, and to create some positive talk about plumbers. You can assume that the next time anybody in Flint needs a plumber, they’re probably going to call the person who installed their free filter.
Pro bono work doesn’t have to be big or splashy to be noticed. Small jobs can lead to huge opportunities. For example, repairing a handicapped handrail at a public building is a handyman special that takes a few minutes and a few dollars from your own pocket, but it’s a high-profile job. Most of the people who need a handrail really want one that’s sturdy and in good repair.
When you finish the job, ask if you can put up a small sign nearby and/or leave a small stack of business cards at the front desk. Make sure you check back to see how your work is holding up – you may be asked for prices and rates for more work. Quote responsibly, too. The building manager may forward your information to other businesses in the area, and if you’re priced reasonably, you could be getting more work.
When you belong to a variety of organizations, a good way to contribute is to volunteer to be in charge of repairs and renovations. You may not be able to absorb the cost of everything the group needs to have done, but you can find other ways to reduce costs, like not charging for your time or using your newest employees on the job to give them more experience.
If your group needs a job done that your company doesn’t do, volunteer to be the foreman and oversee the project pro bono. Your expertise can save your group a lot of time and money. It’ll also get your name out there to other contractors. For example, if your Lions Club is getting some electrical work done, volunteer for the chance to interview and hire the electrician. The more contractors you know, the more opportunities you have to give and receive referrals.
Pro bono work is good for your community, company and you. It can build your business by showing the work you do and telling the people around you that you’re investing in them. Look into how your business can turn pro bono work into a bona fide payday.