Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pro Bono Strategies for Mediators

One of my favorite sayings is "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail". That's one of the reasons I think the strategy of volunteer- now called pro bono- has failed mediators. We haven't taken the time to establish goals or have a long term strategy in place.

I don't believe mediators should volunteer. I do think we should engage in pro bono with a specific aim in mind. I have a pro bono plan that I created several years ago when I started having difficulty saying no to deserving groups. I had so many requests that I started losing money because a good chunk of my billable time was committed to non-billable work. It was hell on my cash flow. Now, I know exactly how much time/money I will donate in any given year and can re-direct inquiries without feeling horrible.

Here's my plan. Don't copy it. Create something that works for you and the folks you serve now or plan to serve in the future.

Dina's Pro Bono Plan

Each year I set both an hour and financial target for giving. The reason I set both is because I can't predict duration or cost of any project in advance and not all projects require my mediation services. Sometimes I'm donating other talents or simply cash to a worthy cause.

So, a commitment might look like 15 hours of direct delivery of mediation services or $2000 in net revenues, whichever happens first. (Remember this is just an example.) I also offer non-profits a discount ( x% off) on top of this commitment.

I tend to take on the pro bono work as inquiries come. So, if the commitment is completed by March that's it for the year. You can decide to divvy it up any way you like. You set a "per quarter commitment" so that x hrs/y dollars are available from January-March. It's really up to you.

The Purpose and Goal

The purpose of the plan is to allow me to contribute to deserving non-profit organizations. My goal is two-fold: to support good work and to maintain a marketing presence in the communities I chose to support. I know that I'm achieving the goal when these organizations refer potential clients to my businesses, Workwelltogether.com and Adrpracticebuilder.com

That's not really any different that other charitable giving organizations. Even Bill Gates requires a return for his philanthropy.

Give it some thought and see if this might work for you.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow.



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