I recognize the importance of building my practice in my community. Along the way, I have been asked many times to do some work for no cost. Sometimes I’m in, and other times not. I do have a few organizations and projects that I am personally connected to, and to which I donate my graphic design services happily.
Many of my clients are long distance, so I am always looking for new opportunities closer to home.
As graphic designer, there is always a new article talking about avoiding work-for-hire, and the pitfalls of doing this type of work. I even discuss this with my students.
Here are my criteria for accepting a pro-bono project:
a. It this cause one that I have a connection to?
b. Will the work be portfolio worthy? (Not all projects—including paid ones—can deliver on this goal.)
c. Can the job be done in a reasonable amount of time?
d. Is it local?
I judge each situation individually and decide for myself, sometimes being influenced by my current workload.
I do promote to my professional circles that I do this work pro-bono. I believe it’s important that they know I contribute in my community as a professional. I also include this point when discussing work-for-hire and how it is distinctly different from pro-bono work with my students.
PS: I do give pro-bono clients an invoice that states the value of the work and discounts the balance to $0. This provides a record of my contribution to this work, and the clienthas a defined cash value of my contribution—which translates to a lot of appreciation.