Start close to home. Approach nonprofits with which your company or your employees already have relationships. "That makes it easier to have a candid conversation about what needs the nonprofit has and what skills you'll be able to give," says Hartman. Plus, employees will enjoy helping their pet causes.

Choose a project leader. Without a strong manager, a pro bono project could get lost in the shuffle. "You want someone who will be able to get a feel for the scope of the project and who can identify the employees who will be able to deliver," says Hartman.

Lay out the terms. Before you start doing work for a nonprofit, make sure both sides are clear about the scope of the project. Creating a timeline and detailed specifications about what work will be done may help you avoid an awkward situation down the road.