Pro bono public, or pro bono, is any work done for the public good and not for compensation. It’s common practice with lawyers and those in creative fields, and while it does essentially boil down to doing work for free, it can be personally fulfilling when done for the right reasons.
First of all, pro bono work allows you to support a cause that you believe in. Charities often rely on pro bono work from artists and others passionate about their cause, so it can be the perfect opportunity to give back to your community and help those in need. There are few things more fulfilling than being able to help others, and many artists consider pro bono work worth their time for that reason alone.
Pro bono work also gives you plenty of opportunities to connect with new prospects. When you volunteer your services to someone for free, they will remember you when they have paid work available. If that time never comes, they may be able to refer you to other potential clients. You might also meet other artists within your field during your pro bono work, giving you opportunities to collaborate with other artists later on. In other words, your unpaid work can become a valuable networking opportunity.
Finally, pro bono work is still technically working. You may not be getting paid for it, but it’s still an opportunity to hone your skills and build your portfolio. These will pay off in the long run while you enjoy giving back to the community and helping others.
Avoiding Common Pro Bono Pitfalls
As fulfilling as pro bono work can be, you also need to approach it correctly. First of all, understand that pro bono work will take up time to spend on a paid job. If you let your pro bono work take up too much of your time, you won’t be able to work your regular job and make a living. Second of all, you still need to approach your pro bono work like a professional. You may not be getting paid, but you should still treat it like you are. You should be doing your best work no matter what if you want to maintain a good reputation within your community. As long as you’re always putting your best foot forward, your pro bono work will pay off in ways you might not expect.