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Getting the most from Pro-Bono work


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Evening all,

 

I've been studying web design and through various books for a while now and I'm at the stage where I can build (relatively) simple static brochure style sites.

 

To build my portfolio I'm going to approach a couple of local business to do some Pro Bono (i.e. free!) work for them and wondered if anyone has any advice on how I can make sure I get the most from this experience?

 

Look forward to the responses.

 

Thanks,

Gareth

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Welcome to the forum!

 

Pro-bono work can be tricky, since you really can't guarantee if you are going to get portfolio-quality work out of it. Sometimes you'll get a very vocal client who won't listen to advice, and the project turns out significantly differently than what you had planned at the start.

 

The main piece of advice is that you should have at least a basic contract that specifies what you will and won't do for free. This should help prevent the company from potentially taking advantage of the situation. You don't want a 10 hour project turning into a 30+ hour project without any way of controlling the situation.

 

I would also suggest that you approach local non-profits/a local cause you want to support first, rather than businesses (perhaps that is what you meant though). They may need more help than local businesses, and non-profits generally could use the help and may be more appreciative of pro-bono work. Rather than asking for money, perhaps you could settle on a "worth" of your services, and offer your services as a tax deductible donation.

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Thanks for the advice guys, all very much appreciated.

 

Falken - I think you make an interesting point about offering my services to a charity, like you say their need & levels of appreciation may surpass that of the local capitalist fat cats! Could you clarify how a tax deductible donation would work though please? This is clearly me being naive but how does the tax aspect work if I'm not charging for the service?

 

Thanks,

Gareth

 

 

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I think you make an interesting point about offering my services to a charity, like you say their need & levels of appreciation may surpass that of the local capitalist fat cats! Could you clarify how a tax deductible donation would work though please? This is clearly me being naive but how does the tax aspect work if I'm not charging for the service?

I'm not completely sure -- I'm in the process of doing it myself. At least in my case, I've determined how much I would usually charge for the type of work I am doing, and I have agreed with the non-profit that I am "donating" that amount. So -- at least technically -- I'm not doing it for free, I am donating my services. I haven't yet, but as the project nears completion, I'll create a simple one page document outlining what I did for them, the usual cost of my services and the approximate number of hours involved, and get them to sign it so I have proof just in case.

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