Recently I have been considering taking on a pro bono client to spend a few hours a week working for a worthy cause. I have approached a couple of non-profits that were started by friends or friends of friends with an offer to start working right away. I chose the groups based on my familiarity with their situation and my belief in their cause. Depending on their objectives and needs, I was offering them free consultations for search engine optimization to improve the rankings and traffic for their sites as well as helping them apply to the Google Grants program to receive free Adwords advertising.
Their initial responses were appreciative and eager, but the follow-up has been a little sluggish. Both groups were interested to get started, but other demands and priorities seem to keep getting in the way of a few kickoff phone calls. Admittedly, I didn’t spend as much time building value for SEO or PPC as I would for a prospective paying client, and maybe that’s where I went wrong.
Imagining myself in their shoes for a moment might also shed some light on their situation. Perhaps they aren’t as tech-savvy and haven’t yet realized or committed to the power of the web to promote their causes. Maybe the short term needs (recruiting volunteers, writing grant proposals, soliciting donations) take their eyes off the longer term growth opportunities. It’s hard enough to get someone’s attention when they are busy with a normal corporate job, but it seems even more difficult when they are dedicated to a cause that has affected their personal lives.
I will continue looking for new pro bono clients, so if you know of anybody that needs some help please have them contact me. In the meantime I will be working on a short SEO and PPC primer for non-profits so they can quickly learn what opportunities exist online to help them accomplish their objectives.