I mentioned earlier in the year that I've been working with a pro bono client. I was approached to do a campaign for an organization called Purses with a Purpose, that works with female victims of domestic violence.
Purses with a Purpose is one branch of a larger organization that helps women with concerns besides domestic violence, they interact with teenagers on topics like body image, and work with young professionals to build career opportunities, and they are doing so much more, besides. I was attracted to Purses with a Purpose because I felt that it addressed a cultural issue that no one is talking about - that domestic abuse transcends race and socioeconomic status. Domestic violence is perpetrated against women regardless of their level of education, regardless of whether they are rich or poor, and regardless of whether they are white or ethnic - but that's not how the media portrays domestic violence - and you know what I'm talking about.
And here's what I've learned from working with my first pro bono client:
Specify the workload in advance. Going into the project I committed to an amount of work that I would do for the client - this specific client didn't have much to work with, but I also knew I couldn't offer them everything they needed - a full branding update, ongoing social media maintenance, and so much more. So I developed a proposal for what I could offer them: a logo, a website, and monthly email campaigns.
Know what you are getting out of it. If a pro bono client promises networking opportunities, free product, or to cover your expenses, make sure you are super clear what that looks like before any work is done. here are a few tax deductions you can claim in relation to volunteering your creative services.
Be realistic about how much you can give. For me, as a sole proprietor, I don't feel that I can handle more than one pro bono client at a time, so when I get approached by other organizations, I typically turn them down, and explain that. Once I wrap up the work I'm doing for Purses with a Purpose, I'll dive into working with on another pro bono client.
Exposure isn't a currency accepted by your landlord - unless it is, in which case, can I meet your landlord? I can't work for everyone for free, so I also have my "wholesale" clients. A few charitable organizations, a few female owned/operated businesses, and businesses who are ethically and environmentally inclined, I offer steeply discounted pricing. It's the equivalent of a friends and family discount, and it's a nice thing to offer a organization with limited means, or a brand with an ethos that you want to support.