Providing such corporate philanthropy is indeed good for business (helps with clients, staff retention, etc.) That’s a given. However, ultimately, we should embark on such philanthropic work because we can all make an important difference.
The fit is natural. PR professionals are ideally suited to pro bono work, because, as media experts, we know how to harness the spotlight to focus the public’s attention. Moreover, we are natural storytellers, and many of these stories need to be told. It’s time that more people in our industry realize that they can do well by doing good.
I’ve set my own professional objective here. I try to donate about 10% of my consultation time to non-profit groups on an ongoing basis. Right now, I’m working with the Société de Saint Vincent de Paul de Montréal on their communications plan and image. The SSVP is a very old, very big ship to turn around (read : very conservative) and progress is slow. Over the past 3 years, I’ve found it rewarding to sit as a member of their communications committee, contributing to bring about positive change which is helping the association meet its financial and PR objectives. What’s also been encouraging has been to bring other PR professionals on board : my colleagues over at AGC Communications provided the SSVP with additional communications expertise last year, spearheading a survey which the association is now using as a benchmark to guage public perception.