The Pros of Pro Bono: How to Start and Maintain a Philanthropic Program withinYour Design Firm

Start Date
End Date
Most architects and designers know that we have a unique opportunity to
address our communities’ underserved populations through volunteerism and
pro bono work. From single-day service opportunities to large pro-bono projects,
there are many ways for design firms to make a difference. The hard part is
finding the right types of projects and maintaining momentum for philanthropic
activities over time.
This session will present Hickok Cole’s Full Circle committee as a case study to
illustrate the crucial elements of a successful philanthropic program within a
design firm. Over the past 8 years, the Full Circle committee has organized over
70 charitable events and donated tens of thousands of volunteer hours to a
variety of causes. These contributions have been recognized by the Washington
Business Journal Corporate Philanthropy Awards two years running. Even
better, the grassroots initiatives of Full Circle have positively contributed to the
firm’s culture and provided a leadership building tool for younger staff.
Come hear about the lessons Full Circle has learned, including project scale
diversity, identifying partners, leadership transition planning, and the importance
of methodically tracking volunteered time. Beyond lessons learned, we’ll provide
a take-away start-up survey to gauge interest in pro-bono design, establish
program goals, and source potential partnerships. You’ll leave with tips and
tricks that you can use to implement and maintain a philanthropic program at
your firm.
Washington, DC
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Business Practices / Contracts / HR
Project Management
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
1. Discuss the benefits of philanthropic initiatives to architectural staff, firms, and
the larger community by illustrating architects’ ethical imperative to make design
accessible to all populations.
2. Utilize the provided survey to measure and assess a firm’s interest in pro-bono
work, source opportunities for partnerships through existing networks,
relationships, and define program goals and methods for engagement.
3. Establish a Full Circle program within their design firm and maintain a financially
sustainable philanthropic effort by applying a methodical approach to track
volunteered time and resources.
4. Identify the unique challenges of pro-bono projects and how your firm’s structure
can appropriately incorporate this type of work by actively managing these
challenges through clear and thorough scoping, client education and
communication, limited deliverables, and targeted contract language.
Abigail R. Brown, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Associate, Hickok Cole Architects,abrown@hickokcole.comSiobhan Steen, AIA, Architect, Hickok Cole Architects, ssteen@hickokcole.comAndrea Lucas, Assoc. AIA, Architect, Hickok Cole Architects,
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Course Codes
Potomac Chapter ASLA

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