Pro bono work is one of my primary grumbles, along with all software tutorials now being delivered through video (I prefer reading!), and people using ‘grizzly’ when they mean ‘grisly’. The issues I have with pro bono are numerous:
- Creative work is constantly undervalued, what with free pitching and being asked to work for free in return for ‘exposure’. Charities should not be contributing to this.
- On the other side of it, I’ve encountered agencies that half-arse pro bono work. It’s the kind of stuff that they do because it wins awards, but they don’t resource it properly or treat it professionally.
- Humans are fickle creatures – we ask for things for free, but are prone to not valuing them when we get them.
- Pro bono is nearly always short term in nature and can lead to huge problems later. I’ve seen lots of organisations go with a specific approach for a digital project because it was offered for free and then 6-12 months later realise that it’s not adequate for their needs.
This piece by Jonty Sharples on Medium.com is a good long-read about the pitfalls of pro bono, and also has sound practical advice for both charities and agencies thinking of entering into a pro bono arrangement. It will help avoid the disappointments and hurt feelings that are often the bad aftertaste of pro bono projects.