Pro Bono is a shortened form of Pro Bono Publico, which is a Latin term for doing public good. Pro Bono work is done without expectation of money and differs from general voluntary services in that the volunteer uses his special skills (for which he would normally charge) for charitable purposes. Doing Pro Bono work has a two pronged advantage. The first is of course that it allows you, as a designer, a chance to serve an organization that is working for non-profit. Secondly, it provides you with a chance to work and gain experience.
The primary aim of doing Pro Bono work
The primary focus of doing Pro Bono work is or should be the fact that you are able to help out a charitable organization with your set of skills. Everybody thinks of maximizing their skills to make money and perhaps that is not bad in itself. But it leaves a warm feeling that you can sometimes give back to society in your own little way. Doing Pro Bono does have other advantages for the designer, but the main focus should be on doing something for nothing – a lofty idea not always easy to adhere to.
Other advantages that arise out of doing Pro Bono work
• This is a very opportunity for beginners. Big design companies will ask for a portfolio and where does one produce a portfolio when you are just out of design school? Jobs require experience and experience requires jobs. This is where you could opt to do Pro Bono work for a small or medium non-profit organization. This chance will allow you to show the work that you do in your portfolio. Remember to take good photographs when you are finished.
• Apart from the actual experience gained out of doing design work, you will gain other practical skills like learning to meet with clients, working within given time-frames and most importantly gain self confidence. Even if there was no money to be made, at least you gained experience in your field.
• Treating the non-profit organization like clients will help you identify with the demands of your assignment. Just because they are not paying does not mean you should treat them any less than real paying clients.
• Take this opportunity to let your creative juices flow and focus on designing the way you want. When you work with a company, there will be restrictions on what you can do. Here you can request them to let you design the way you want (as long as it meets their needs).
• You will get some recognition for your work depending on the profile of the organization. You can quote the experience in your portfolio.
• There are several kinds of work you could do in your Pro Bono assignment. Brochures, greeting cards, logos and T-shirts: All make good design options. So do art therapy sessions and art classes for underprivileged children.