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Practising Probono

Creating real world Impact.

Can art change the world? Not save it, but change it?

Yes, says JR — a street artist from France who took to creating bold statements with just pictures printed over paper, and sticking them in public places. As someone who sees the world through a lens that is amusing, his work and pictures depict a sort of playfulness, and reality that makes one think; understand.

As far as change is concerned JR has been more than effective in bringing out crude social realities and shifting the perception of mankind on social issues- at no personal benefit.

He spends time, effort and mental prowess over things that could probably match million dollar campaigns, pro bono; making him our biggest inspiration to be a part of projects with the sole intention of using our creativity for the greater good.

A word frequently used in legal context, pro bono, is a Latin phrase for professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment, with the goal to do public good.

Better known to us as CSR — Corporate Social Responsibility wherein big organisations or corporations conduct events and make donations with the intention of creating impact.

However, are only corporates capable of taking up causes relating to social impact?

What about the more cultural and divided social problems that don’t get as much traction or exposure like the #metoo campaign? (or the ALS ice bucket challenge)

Our opinion is that the scale of an organisation shouldn’t stand in the way of contributing to the greater good and upliftment of our society and its smaller causes that need just as much time and attention.

Pro bono always adds to the development of society, a belief that led to some examples we’ve mentioned below:

Dadi ki Rasoi — To honour his mother, Anup Khanna with his kids offers food to people at a negligible amount (Rs 5, yes there are no zeroes missing, we checked) and clothes at Rs.10 to people in need. In a world where you cannot get water for Rs 5, we have people willing to feed and nurture for the cause of humanity and nothing else.

Photo Khicho — Gaurav Prabhu, a motorcyclist and a photographer rides on his bike to remote villages around the country and teaches kids photography while spending quality time with them.

Arpan Cafe — Another stellar example of inclusivity in our society, practiced by Arpan cafe run by differently abled individuals, allowing them to become a part of society and contribute to their homes while using the skills they possess.

HBF(yours truly) — We did a small workshop with BMC school kids and taught them photography as a means of self expression. Have a look here.

Delving a little into our business model, we as an agency follow Matthew Manos’ ‘Models of Impact’ wherein half our time is dedicated to pro bono projects, with the belief that every part of society deserves a chance to represent themselves well. Unlike many corporates who partake in tax exemption under the guise of charity for society, we believe in having a sense of passion toward whatever work we do — be it paid, or pro bono.

There are many more examples like this, that inspire the importance and impact of doing work pro bono. But sometimes, it so happens that the person seeking pro bono work, assigns it no importance, or commitment for the very reason that they are getting it done for free.

The NGO/benefactor loses a sense of professional obligation toward the designer/organisation due to a lack of monetary exchange.

To ensure that all the mental and physical effort you, as a designer or agency put into working for a pro bono job doesn’t go for naught, we urge you to have a balanced and open relationship with the organisation.

Whether you are working alone towards a cause or with an organisation, there are going to be constraints like time, money and other resources. So both the parties should put all their cards on the table and build a mutual trust from the start. Since you are working without an ulterior motive and solely because you are passionate about the cause, don’t just jump into in straightaway. Prepare a roadmap and then strategically craft solutions with your partners. Make sure you always take decisions from an objective standpoint. Throughout the whole process always remember what the end goal is.

These are just some steps among many that can go a long way in ensuring you don’t get swindled by an organisation under the guise of doing pro bono work. As a rising trend, socially responsible entrepreneurship is coming to be one of the most wholesome movements and leading to tangible creativity.

So we urge you to observe the world around you and find what good you can contribute to, big or small.

Pro bono? si, bueno!



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