As a strong believer in networking and contributing to support a greater good, I decided early on that being a responsible company owner should be at the core of building my business as a coach.

Back then, twenty years ago, the business world didn’t really have a word for it, some company owners were just considered generous. This innate desire to give back and support community has since been validated and named. Corporate social responsibility, commonly spoken to as CSR, is now a well-established part of branding and included in every business plan, something I strongly promote. Taking on a responsibility beyond minding your own business creates a purpose and a self-esteem. It also gives customers knowledge of the ethics that are guiding your company and who you want to be in the world.

In a business climate where factors other than cutting prices is appealing to customers, this is an essential motivator. Clients don’t come to you for coaching because you are the cheapest. They come because they trust you. As a coach one of your main values to contribute is the effects of being coached. Sharing that pro bono in situations that matches your ethics is a good way of showing who you are.

Giving is not just about being kind. Neither is it about “what’s in it for you.” It is about what happens to you in the process, internally as it affects self-perception. Altruism is known to build self-confidence and a sense of belonging. You begin to view yourself as one strong enough to give. It is also about what happens externally as people are including you in their circles and seeing you as contributing and generous. Givers bring good things around.

Pro bono coaching has given me the opportunity to coach clients I never imagined possible. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to work with individuals who never would have had the chance to receive coaching, but through a pro bono coaching experience have made enormous progress. I have also used coaching to support individuals who are volunteering for causes close to their hearts. The sessions inspire and strengthen the important work they are providing to the nonprofits. It is lovely to see the ripples of the effects of pro bono coaching.

What was a natural inclination to provide for others, now has become a must-have for business. I have found the benefit for my business is that I reach new pools of potential clients who did not know coaching was the answer to the challenges they were facing. A personal benefit of pro bono work is to treat myself with the pleasure of giving. I simply love having the opportunity! It’s fun, it’s personal development, it’s supporting others, and as a bonus, it’s building brand and showing the benefits of coaching to new potential clients. Why on earth would one not do pro bono coaching?

Lena Gustafsson, ICF PCC, and Master of social sciences majoring in Psychology. She is past president of ICF Sweden and actively engaged in the development of coaching in her country, equally interested in the fields of method development as of building business as a coach. She is working nationally and internationally in all sectors from sole traders to multinational companies, public organizations and NGOs. She is also an experienced mentor coach.

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