Working Pro Bono: Part One

  • Written by Danielle Zeigler

Part One: Agencies Giving Back to the Community

In honor of LWT’s 9th annual CreateAthon event, I’ll be covering a three part series on working for causes.

  • Part One: Agencies Giving Back to the Community
  • Part Two: LWT’s CreateAthon 2010 Coverage
  • Part Three: Using Social Media for Causes

Almost all agencies do pro bono work or help charities in some way at one point or another. It’s about giving a voice to those groups who can’t afford to compete in the advertising jungle. Students, such as those at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, are also giving hundreds of hours of work to local organizations (Read more…). Most non-profits simply don’t have the resources to create a high-quality, in-depth ad campaign, and it’s very unlikely that they have a regular volunteer with the skill and experience necessary to grab attention. In today’s world, every organization needs a website, let alone someone to maintain it. This alone is more difficult for non-profits than one would think.

There are some advantages to the ad agencies, too, of course. Doing pro bono work can extend creative freedom, allowing for fresh ideas that may have been thought too risky before. Even if it’s a fund raiser or park clean-up effort, rather than free marketing, it’s a great connection to have for both organizations. It can give insight to the values and beliefs with which the agency is aligned.


Agencies can give back in a variety of ways from physical labor to pro bono creative services. Starcom USA, a media communications agency, had two offices help nearby communities recently. The Detroit office worked with Focus:Hope in efforts to revitalize neighborhoods for future generations. Starcom USA makes community outreach a tradition. (Read More…) Grey, New York, is an advertising agency which participates in the Broadway Flea Market each year. Last year over $400,000 was raised for Broadway Cares, which focuses on HIV/AIDS fundraising. (Read More…)

Pro Bono work is on the rise. Many agencies still made it a priority during the recession, and there are even contests recognizing some of the best work. Create for a Cause is a contest by Yahoo and the Ad Council to “recognize the best in digital advertising for public service campaigns.” This year the contest is open to all ad agencies who work with non-profits, not just those that work with the Ad Council. (Read More…) These are a few examples of the ways agencies can get involved and how they’re being recognized for doing so.

Giving back to the community is something everyone should do at some point, but the amount of power an ad agency has is an amazing opportunity that should not be overlooked. Often, the experience is much more rewarding than a paycheck.