The Organizational Effectiveness (OE) team is often asked where nonprofits can find resources for capacity building projects. Grant funding in this area can be hard to find, and unfortunately, we are not able to provide support for all of the worthy projects that come our way, even for Packard Foundation grantees.
In some circumstances, it makes sense to consider skilled volunteers, also known as pro bono volunteers. This post provides a starting point for understanding what skilled volunteers can do, advice on how to succeed with these projects, and some starting places in finding the assistance you need. There are advantages and disadvantages in working with pro bono volunteers. However, if you want to explore the option for your organization, read on!
What is pro bono volunteering?
Pro bono volunteers (also known as skilled volunteers) share their professional skills with purpose-driven organizations that need their expertise. From targeted, one-day engagements to year-long partnerships, skilled volunteering is a tailored opportunity that requires intention and commitment. Even short-term pro bono volunteer projects require both the organization and volunteer to prepare for the project launch in advance, allocate sufficient time to work together and make certain that champions within the organization are ready to implement the project after the pro bono project concludes.
Planning for Success
Considering a pro bono arrangement? Clearly defining a pro bono project from the start will chart a path for success. Mission-based organizations that welcome pro bono volunteers risk losing significant amounts of time if the project fails. Because of the level of engagement that skilled volunteering entails, having a contract between the organization and the volunteer can ensure that the project is thoughtfully designed with clear expectations of project objectives and activities. Intermediary organizations can also offer screening and matching services to help deploy skilled volunteers where they are needed. As is true throughout the capacity building field, the match between the nonprofit and the person offering the expertise is paramount. Nonprofits considering pro bono services should carefully consider not only the expertise of the potential volunteer but also the volunteer’s ability to tailor their expertise to be socially and culturally relevant and to take into account diverse perspectives.
When thoroughly planned, pro bono volunteer projects can energize social sector organizations and build their capacity. By partnering with skilled volunteers, nonprofits and social enterprises alike are engaging cross-sectoral volunteers that powerfully combine their honed skills with their drive to make a difference.
Pro bono volunteer resources
We have compiled a list of resources for organizations seeking pro bono or skilled volunteers along with a description of their services from their own websites. Please note that inclusion on this list does not mean that we are recommending these services, but rather that we are sharing their information for you to make your own decision. Do you know of any other resources we should share? Let us know in the comments.
“Catchafire partners with social mission organizations who have demonstrable impact, strong leadership, and vision. We scope the projects, find the right volunteers, and facilitate the pro bono engagements so you don’t have to. Organizations invited into our community are required to make an investment.”
“We connect corporate employees to nonprofit organizations with proven models to tackle the greatest challenges our communities face. Common Impact [offers] the Pro Bono Calculator, a step-by-step tool that quantifies the value and investment of utilizing pro bono support for your organization and your project.”
“CSOD Foundation’s HR Pro Bono Corps is a unique and effective way to bring much-needed human capital management expertise to our nonprofit partners at no cost. Through this program, we recruit and match HR professionals with nonprofits in need of coaching or project-based consulting to address a specific challenge in training or learning strategy.”
“Encore talent describes people age 50+ who apply their skills, energy and passion for the greater good. Explore best practices and new approaches for effectively engaging people 50+ – from the first step of designing high-impact encore-friendly roles, to making the best match, day-to-day management and recognition.”
“Points of Light helps your nonprofit find volunteers and also equips you with the skills and resources you need to use volunteers more effectively. Points of Light operates through a network of innovative volunteer-mobilizing organizations located in more than 250 cities across 37 countries.”
Readiness Roadmap is a “nonprofit collaborative working together to identify, organize and share resources that will help the nonprofit sector be ready to engage in and benefit from pro bono professional services.”
“Need a Set of Free Hands to Help You? Skillsforchange.com is free service that helps organizations connect with volunteers that can perform their small tasks. The tasks are posted as challenges performed with micro-volunteering.” [Source] “You post a challenge, volunteers answer your challenge online, and you thank them. A challenge consists of work that can be done entirely online, can be completed in a short amount of time, and has a clear deliverable or result.”
“The Stanford Alumni Consulting Team provides pro bono consulting expertise in a wide range of areas, including strategic planning, marketing, earned revenue, financial sustainability, and organizational growth.”
“Most organizations tackling social problems don’t have access to the marketing, design, technology, management or strategic planning resources they need to succeed. Taproot connects these organizations to skilled volunteers through pro bono service. From one-on-one consultations to team-based long-term projects, we offer in-person and virtual engagements. We mobilize the growing global pro bono movement by convening meetings of pro bono leaders and sharing research and best practices that inspire others to action.”