Pro bono rules

Treat every pro bono project as if you're working for your best-paying client. Expect some pro bono efforts to be difficult because of red tape or personality clashes. Ironically, the worst nightmares always seem to occur when you volunteer your services or work for a highly discounted rate.

Qualify every pro bono project. Before you agree to help, make sure that you can do it effectively, that the scope isn't too broad, and that both the nonprofit and your firm will support your efforts. Try to select projects that fit in with your other commitments and that can produce results that will be worth your investment.

Get it in writing. As soon as possible, clarify exactly what you're expected to do and put your understanding in writing. It doesn't have to be a full-blown proposal or a long, detailed contract as long as it describes:

Your role.

How you're to work with others.

^ The results that should flow from your activities.

Use the guidelines in Chapter 16 on writing proposals to prepare a statement of the work you'll perform. Also define measures of success by including what precisely should occur for the project to be successful. Define how you'll know when the project is completed and the nonprofit is satisfied. If you don't specify what constitutes completion of the work, you may never get out of the project.

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