A Billion + Change: Changing the Game for Nonprofits

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“America's businesses – small and large – possess an abundant wealth of strategic skills and talent that nonprofits need now more than ever before.” – Jean Case; CEO, Case Foundation

This belief is the bedrock of A Billion + Change, a game-changing initiative that gives nonprofits insight into their own management process and programs from some of the best minds corporate America has to offer. On Thursday, the Corporation for National and Community Service joined Senator Mark Warner, as well as representatives from the Points of Light Institute, the Case Foundation and Deloitte to mark a milestone for the program -- $1 billion worth of pledges.

The agency and others were accompanied by businesses and nonprofit organizations pledging their support to the strategic initiative for the re-launch, and together the group issued a challenge to the business community to start or expand their pro bono or skills-based volunteering program.

Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Robert Velasco II, speaks at the launch of A Billion + Change, a national campaign to mobilize $1 billion of pro bono and skills-based service resources by 2013, at a ceremony on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 in Washington. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for A Billion + Change)

A Billion + Change provides an opportunity for corporations to answer the President's Call to Service, and to engage their employees in volunteer work that utilizes professional skillsets to address community challenges.

American companies are the unquestioned leaders in global innovation and by offering their services via skills-based volunteerism, nonprofits receive invaluable access that helps them to build their own capacity and become more effective organizations, ultimately enabling them to increase their impact.

This initiative strategically expands opportunities to serve and, it is our hope, that much of that service will focus on the same challenges our national service programs are focusing on: strengthening education, providing disaster services, preserving the environment, expanding health services, fostering economic opportunity, and assisting veterans and military families.

What could be smarter and more strategic than harnessing the most creative and productive workforce in the world to apply the same skills they use in their day jobs to create stronger, healthier, and more sound nonprofits that in turn, help to create stronger, healthier and more stable communities?

Ultimately, this initiative is about results and impact – making real changes in people's lives. Such is the case for Lori Kaplan, CEO of the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, D.C. As part of a pro bono project, the organization received a financial plan, which in turn, helped secure a $2 million foundation grant.

Just as importantly, however, the plan included income statements, balance sheets, cash flowers, and interest payment schedules through the 2012 fiscal year. Such a plan provides the Latin American Youth Center with a sustainable model for ensuring financial success and in turn, enabling them to increase their impact.

This is what the Corporation for National and Community Service is all about. The agency believes in investing in organizations to build their capacity, increasing opportunities to serve, and focusing service efforts on the toughest problems facing communities and our nation.

Together, the business and nonprofit communities can do great good. The brainpower of the private sector can help fuel the power and process of civic-minded organizations to become stronger, more effective providers of service.

Rhonda Taylor is the Senior Advisor for Public Engagement at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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