The group Photographers for Charity appeared on my horizon a couple of months ago. They were originally founded in New Zealand and now have branches in the States, Australia, Canada and India as well as the U.K. They offer free photographic services to charities and non-profit organisations through their network of professional and semi professional photographers. It is well worth getting involved with (and incredibly easy to do so through their facebook and twitter sites) especially if you are just starting out in your career as a photographer.
There are of course many different ways and levels of working with charities as well as many reasons for doing so. It would be entirely up to you, as a photographer, to clearly state the terms and conditions under which you wish to work. So much of my early work though was for charities such as The British Red Cross and Creative Aid for Romania and it was incredibly important to me as a person and a photographer so, personally speaking, I cannot recommend it enough.
I would have no hesitation in providing my services to a charity that I believed in or wanted to become involved with, although the fact that I still shoot film and don’t use digital may narrow my choices slightly. The ideal situation would be for me become involved in a long term project, providing a collection of images that can be used in an exhibition or article. Opportunities like this are few and far between, but I shall be keeping an eye open for them.