Pro Bono Work May Pay Off for Idled Ad Hands

Just Because You're Out of a Job Doesn't Mean You Need to Be Out of Work

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Peter Madden Peter Madden
I am surrounded by idled talent. Friends in high positions laid off as the results of companies shedding as many expenses as possible in their effort to survive. Add to this the number of resumes we receive from designers, PR professionals, account managers and more who were recently let go.

All of this talent idling is a real crime, and I may have a simple solution to get things moving again.

My solution isn't going to pay the bills, but it's sure to feed the soul, showcase your talent, make connections quickly and lead you toward that dream job quicker than you thought.

Work for free for a not-for-profit organization that needs your help.

We're taking this medicine at AgileCat. Since our inception we've had pro bono clients in the mix. I feel that any small agency -- from army of one to 100 -- should be doing the same, especially in this economy.

In our most recent case, we branded an organization formerly known as CADE (Corporate Alliance for Drug Education), based in Philadelphia. CADE helps kids K-8 make good decisions and resolve conflicts peacefully. Every day these kids can be found in situations where they need to make the right decision to stay away from everything from fights and drugs to gangs and worse.

So we took CADE through a brand discovery and positioning and developed a name and logo that clearly defines them.

We didn't perform this work expecting or hoping for some kind of payback. Just call it karma. Kelly Hennigan and Alison Horner, two of the cats here, had a blast doing the brand research and design, respectively. It gave the whole culture here a cool boost knowing we were doing something special for a well-meaning organization.

During this process, I thought more than a few times of so many talented people out there, circulating their resumes, meeting with connections at companies, looking to land a dream job or, in many cases, just looking to land on their feet.

What could be a better way to put this talent in action than for a not-for-profit in your area? Look beyond the dollars, and help people out that need it. In the short term, you'll feel that sense of responsibility that makes anyone love getting up in the morning. You'll meet some great people who will be able to experience your talent firsthand. It's also no secret that nonprofit companies are also feeling a major strain and need help now more than ever.

There aren't many chances to feel a little heroic in our business, but presenting our logo to CADE gave me a great sense of pride that carried over into all of our work. As someone once said, if it feels good -- do it.

This work has also lead me to thinking about starting a national network of marketeers who will exist to do pro bono work -- from design to social-media strategy -- for the many not-for-profits that need it. What do you think? I'll gauge my next steps depending on what I hear from you and post about it. Until the next time, have fun watching your talent open doors to a new future.

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