This isn’t an easy decision to make. While we work for certain clients or initiatives we believe in, we also have to support Red Fan and pay for every hour our staff gives.
That means that each year, I have to choose wisely. Here are a few factors I consider:
1. Having worked at big agencies, I know pro bono work often gets pushed to interns and junior staff. I decided that would not happen here. We all want to be involved in the things we care about, so why should a senior-level staff member not be allowed to work on a passion project or work for one of our nonprofit clients? Similarly, I expect a certain standard of quality at Red Fan, regardless of the client or the staff member. This is no amateur school project; any work we do must be stellar.
2. I often sit down with entrepreneurs long before they can enter a relationship with a PR partner to mentor them on avoiding costly mistakes. I do this free of charge, because, as an entrepreneur myself, I understand the value of having a mentor to lean on when founding a business or pursuing an idea or passion. It can lead to trusted relationships, future business, better networking and, most importantly, is an opportunity to help others learn and grow. For those who need more in-depth strategy sessions that require research and brainstorming but can’t afford a retainer, we offer market and press-ready packages to help startups build or refine their messaging and business fundamentals without the extra financial burden.
3. Being part of a community like Austin is special, and keeping local traditions alive is important to my team and me. That means supporting nonprofits however we can. At times, we need to help them and their boards gather momentum, sometimes even for a few years until they’ve established themselves in the market. Like any smart business owner, I have to carefully assess how much altruistic work we can carry every year. Recently, we were proud to see that our four and a half years with the Trail of Lights Foundation have borne enough fruit that we could hand off that responsibility and make room for the ABC Kite Fest, which turns 89 in 2018.
I’m proud to serve on both the board of Austin Gives as well as the Friends of the Kite Fest with a number of exceptional members of the Austin community who are passionate about helping local traditions survive and thrive. It’s a passion we share at Red Fan, whether that means working with relatively new nonprofits like Farmgrass and the Andy Roddick Foundation or more established brands like the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.
Building a work culture that empowers employees to contribute their talents and skills is incredibly rewarding, and I know my staff appreciates such opportunities throughout the year. We’re proud to be part of a community whose members care so much about each other. It connects us all and imbues us with purpose, and is a reminder that doing good is not just good business practice, but good for everyone.