How to go about getting pro bono clients?

This week I took Michael’s advice and advertised for clients!  I created a poster (see link below) and sent it to five friends.

I explained:

  1. why I was doing this
  2. how much time I would give
  3. how many clients I would take
  4. that it was free and
  5. explained my areas of expertise

Two of the five were interested!  Both mentioned that they would gather some information from their parents and so I sent them an ancestral chart and a family group sheet to assist them in the collection of information but I also let them know that rarely does one have a lot of information to start (if they did they wouldn’t need me!).  What is interesting is that neither one is in my area of expertise (Ireland and trying to prove a Revolutionary soldier as a relative).  Of course, it was and will be necessary to manage their expectations because I may not, and probably won’t, answer their genealogical question.  I can just get them closer.  Not too many of us are luck enough to have a “Brooke Shields moment” where they unfurl the calligraphic 10 foot lineage back to the Sun King!

Link: ad for clients

Michael is right, I already feel like I know more than I did when I started with Mary’s.  (which I am gathering up to send to her)

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: created a poster, send to friends and got two responses.  I would like another for a total of three so that might happen next week. Gathered Mary’s report together (narrative, lineage, exhibits, other documents and books for her.), signed up for the third quarter of the class and continue to maintain the class’s website.  (and, we have 10 folks so far that have signed up for the conference in August so we are on our way with that as well!)


7 comments on “How to go about getting pro bono clients?

  1. N. P. Maling says:

    Jill, that’s a very good idea for a beginning professional genealogist to do. Hope you get *four* clients this way!

  2. Sheila Jarrett says:

    I would LOVE to find someone help me with a twenty-year block! Do you know of any other beginning genealogists who would love to tackle a very difficult case? Two separate DNA tests have been completed in an attempt to help trace my husband’s background, but haven’t been able pay someone for help.

    • Jill Morelli says:

      Sheila, I assume, by asking for “beginning genealogists” you mean, genealogists who will do the work for free. If so, I would refer you to your local genealogical society or the society which is located in the area where your person of interest lived. I think societies would be your best option. I would point out, however, if you (a beginning genealogist?) are unable to solve brick wall, why do you think someone with equal skills will be able to crack the code? Just some food for thought.


  3. Jennifer Whalen says:

    I am looking for someone to help me with my genealogical research. I am looking for my biological father and have completed a DNA test. I have many matches that I have deduced to be relationships on my biological father’s side. One of which is projected to be a 2nd-3rd cousin. I have found some common ancestors with other matches, but I am stuck. I REALLY need someone to help me solve this puzzle. If you know of anyone who is willing to take on some pro-bono work, please let me know. I am searching for a missing piece, no more no less. Please let me know @

    Thank you!

    • Jill Morelli says:

      I’m sorry, there are few folks who will tackle DNA problems such as yours pro bono. Good luck. You can always contact your local genealogical society chapter.

  4. Catherine Bloomquist says:

    What a great idea…I am just beginning the certification process and am looking for clients. I plan to borrow your idea and share among my Facebook friends. Thanks for sharing the link to your poster too (great verbiage). I just discovered your blog and have already read some great posts. Thanks!

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