Tips for Working with a Pro Bono Consultant

One option when looking to improve your organizational capacity is to work with a pro bono consultant. Pro bono - short for pro bono publico, "for the public good" - has come to mean professional services delivered at low or no cost to social change organizations. Working with a pro bono consultant can help your nonprofit further its mission in a range of areas from marketing to information technology, financial and administrative support, and other services. When working with a pro bono consultant vs. a paid consultant, keep in mind the below principles to help make the engagement a success, and find more from the Taproot Foundation here.

Principles of Impact-Oriented Pro Bono Consulting
1. Know and define your needs. Engage pro bono resources proactively. With a clearly-defined end goal in mind that you work to, your pro bono consultant can help hit a home run on your project.
2. Get the right resource for the right job. When you bring in the right set of expertise and skillsets for your job, your pro bono consultant may be able to push your thinking on the project and bigger impact.
3. Be realistic about pro bono deadlines. Be thoughtful about which projects you can address -- even small tasks can take longer than expected, and pro bono is rarely a good solution for urgent needs.
4. Act like a paying client. Treat your consultant as if you were paying -- for instance, by making sure that meetings are not rescheduled and that the work is a priority. This will help keep the work on track.
5. Learning goes both ways. A pro bono project is a partnership: you supply knowledge of your organization and field, while the consultant brings functional expertise and a fresh perspective.

The Institute for Black Male Achievement (IBMA) ( is a national membership network that seeks to ensure the growth, sustainability, and impact of leaders and organizations committed to improving the life outcomes of black men and boys through systemic change. Each week, the IBMA aims to bring you a capacity-building tip to spark discussion and generate ideas on how to advance our organizations, ourselves, and the field. Visit the IBMA website to register for the weekly tip and receive access to capacity-building and field-building resources.