The Lazy Professional’s Way To Navigate Pro Bono Work

Anyone who has ever worked as a free lancer, consultant, or ran your own business will love this flowchart from Brooklyn based typographer and illustrator, Jessica Hische. Titled should i work for free? Hische provides an incredibly useful flowchart to help you figure out…wait for it… which pro bono jobs you should accept…
click for the XXL size

Ms. Hische’s delightfully frank flowchart is easily adopted by business consultants, service providers, board members, and musicians alike so every stakeholder in this field can take advantage! Keep in mind, the chart has a few “adult” words sprinkled about so insert your favorite obligatory NSFW notice here before clicking the link to the full size chart.

Bonus: make sure you stop by Hische’s blog, it’s loaded with some really cool ideas.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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2 thoughts on “The Lazy Professional’s Way To Navigate Pro Bono Work”

  1. Lovely!

    I use a somewhat simpler formulation that covers everything but the “mother scenario”: The Three “P’s”

    These Three P’s come from advice attributed to Leonard Bernstein, and they are “Profit”, Prestige”, and “Personal Satisfaction”.

    When confronted with a professional opportunity ask yourself: “How many P’s” are being satisfied?” If there at least two, go ahead. Only one, gracefully decline.

    The mother scenario falls under a more subjective personal relationships category that might be considered a collections of “G’s”. I haven’t so elegantly worked out what they might be but offer “Goodness”, “Gratitude”, and “Guilt” for consideration.

    • Words of wisdom indeed and in all seriousness, I do think it is the responsibility of every consultant or service provider firm to provide some sort of pro bono work. In my consulting work, I select a few projects each year based on the size, scope, and who it is for. But beyond that, I provide a set amount of reduced fee work that goes toward small budget organizations.

      One of my real complaints about the rise of the cultural-industrial complex is the alarming increase in fees. Clearly, people deserve to be paid what they are worth but fee increases are bordering (crossing?) the gouging level to such a frightful degree that smaller budget groups can’t afford the help they need. Even worse, many re-allocate resources to pay exorbitant prices for something that won’t end up doing them much good. We all know the stories about groups paying up to tens of thousands of dollars for nothing more than a “professional recommendation” which is the preferred jargon for “my unsupported opinion.”

      Clients shouldn’t be forced to receive inferior services/deliverables or feel like anyone is doing them a favor and the entire consulting field needs to take a step back and remember that operating a for profit business within a nonprofit model demands responsible pricing.

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