Big businesses get big attention for the work they do in their communities. Companies like Microsoft, Pfizer, Oracle and Merck rank atop the list of organizations committed to charitable giving. These companies donate large sums of money in hopes that will pay off in the long run, both for their organizations of choice and their businesses.
As a freelancer, how can you make a difference in your community without having the resources of a Fortune 500 company? The answer is simple: Offer your services pro bono. It’s a win-win situation. You gain the satisfaction of helping the nonprofit and, in many cases, can leverage the work you do for press coverage.
As an independent freelancer, taking the initiative to help out a local organization is a great way to provide a much-needed service that may fall through the cracks during budget negotiations. For example, the local women’s shelter may have an outdated website that needs restructuring, but lack the funds to hire a web designer and don’t have the skill sets to do it themselves. A freelance designer could easily transform the site and in return reap the benefits of the in-kind donation.
The opportunities are nearly endless. More than likely, your skill set matches an unmet need within an organization. For instance, if you’re a developer you could help optimize a mobile website for the Alzheimer’s Association or create landing pages for donations and volunteers for a local Habitat for Humanity project. Or maybe you can develop an app specifically for the organization’s cause, which can be used at the local level or possibly instituted nationally. Photographers and videographers can work with animal shelters to help spotlight the animals in need of homes on social media sites like Facebook and YouTube. Freelance marketers can work to maximize digital content or offer to write press releases for the local branch of the American Cancer Society.
Most charitable organizations have needs that span beyond cash donations. It’s not hard to find a group that could benefit from freelance design, business development or marketing services. Do a Google search for nonprofits in your area, or check out sites like Idealist.org and seek out those with missions in line with your own values. Brainstorm how you can help them, reach out to their director and before long, you could be making a valuable contribution to a local or national charity.
Once your project nears completion, or you’re ready to announce your contributions, it’s perfectly acceptable to promote it. Nonprofits don’t shy away from the limelight and will gladly help promote the work you’ve done in support of their cause. Showcasing your altruism and your abilities may lead to new opportunities. Post it to your website, Facebook, and Twitter. And don’t forget to network with the people you meet while working on the project. As a freelancer, you never know where your next job may come from.
A word of caution: Don’t offer to do the work if you don’t believe in the cause. If you’re simply looking for the free publicity, think again. Your passion – or lack thereof – for the organization’s mission will show through in the work you produce. Seek to create partnerships with groups supporting causes you firmly believe in, and you’ll produce quality work that you can be proud of and will benefit all parties.
Have you ever offered your services to a local organization? Did it benefit you in the long-run?