October 31, 2012

Pro Bono Community = Good Will

I've been thinking about Pro Bono this week after having a conversation with my dad about volunteering your services. As an exercise, I watched how a kind gesture of free services "moved through the pipeline" of my week, like a thread.

On Monday I stopped by my dentist's office because I felt like there was something stuck between my teeth, irritating my gums and I couldn't get it out. I hadn't called to set an appointment, but simply walked in since I was in the neighborhood. They had me wait for five minutes and then snuck me into see the dentist between his appointments. He cheerfully poked around my gums and said, "nothing there, I think you've over flossed, give it a rest." As I walked back to the receptionist I expected her to charge me for the immediate care. No charge at all, just wished me a good day.

From there I went to the shoe cobbler to see how much it would cost me to fix the zipper pull-latch on my boots. "That is $25" he said. To replace the zipper, I asked? No, just the small piece. Seriously, $25 to fix the small piece? Then he looked through his inventory but didn't have a match. I offered $20 for a non-matching zipper replacement and he said, "No, it is $25. You can pay the remainder when you pick it up in eight days." Really? $25 and eight days to fix a zipper? I felt like all the dentist's good will was lost on the shoe cobbler.

The next day I went to get my hair colored and cut from my dear friend Dave. He also bought me two giant bottles of my favorite shampoo and conditioner. When it came time to pay for his services, he gave me a tremendous discount, one that I thought was too generous. So, I gave him more than he had requested and I felt that Pro Bono vibe pumping again.

Immediately after getting my hair styled I went to meet with an artist who attended a Pro Bono workshop I presented the previous Friday for the Foundation Center Library. He needed help with social media strategies and so I agreed to meet him and provide some pointers. I was not sure if I should charge for the meeting. But then I reflected back on the week and recognized how wonderful it was to receive so many good faith Pro Bono services from my community. Turns out that I gained just as much from the consulting session as he did. All the lessons I teach in class came together as he and I discussed the project for which he was fundraising via social media. He too was offering Pro Bono services to benefit the community.

Yes, I realize that Pro Bono services do not pay the bills, but they do fill your heart with good will.