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How to boost your work portfolio

Lauren Fairbanks is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor who has penned for AOL, Young Money, and Eating Well Magazine, among others. She's also the founder and editor of LifeStyler, a NYC centric guide to budget living.

Work pro bono & boost your career

Some people will say that working for free is a professional faux pas -- but doing pro bono work can go a long way toward earning you professional credibility. And in the midst of a lagging job outlook, getting a few client referrals and additional experience under your belt surely isn't a bad thing.

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Pick the right pro bono work

Finding legitimate and worthwhile pro bono work used to be a job in its own right -- sorting through Craigslist listings or trying to find projects by word of mouth. But an inventive new website has popped up to break down the barrier between professionals and organizations, and foster a more beneficial working arrangement between the two.

Catchafire pairs professionals with nonprofits

Catchafire.com is a new website that pairs professionals with nonprofits that need expert help. While the site is still new, the company is getting lots of attention in the nonprofit world, where finding experienced and capable volunteers can be a challenge. By pairing professional volunteers with nonprofits, Catchafire acts as a sort of mediator, allowing both sides to do what they do best without having to spend time and energy on the logistics.

Using Catchafire to your advantage

Signing up on Catchafire only takes a minute -- then you can browse by organization, project type or nonprofit mission and submit an application for the project. Catchafire monitors the project milestones and gives recommendations on weekly updates, meetings and project deliverables, so that both parties keep reasonable expectations and both sides stay happy. You can even sync up your account with your Facebook page.

Pro bono work needs

The greatest need for pro bono writing seems to be for social media, marketing and PR specialists, but you will also find projects that revolve around legal work, accounting, advertising, design, finance, human resources and technology. Projects typically run between two and six months, and the work can be written off as a donation if the organization is registered as a 501(c)3 -- a huge tax benefit for small companies or individual freelancers.

Get partnered with the perfect project to boost your portfolio

So whether you're a fledgling small-business owner looking to add to your client roster or a seasoned freelancer looking to boost your portfolio, Catchafire can help pair you with the perfect project to get you started.

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