The resources of nonprofits across the nation are being stretched like never before, with the country seeing both a significant increase in needs and a measurable decrease in the financial resources available to meet those needs. In order to not only maintain current levels of service, but to increase their capacity to meet the growing challenges, nonprofits must access a variety of skills and expertise that may not be available within the organizations themselves. At the same time, the corporate sector is beginning to recognize that it can create a greater impact on critical social issues by offering its own best resource – its professional expertise.
At the intersection of the challenges to be met and the expert human resources to meet those challenges is skills-based volunteering (SBV). This innovative approach takes advantage of individuals’ skills and experience to help service organizations build and sustain their capacity to bring real solutions to our most pressing social problems.
A number of organizations, including Points of Light Institute, Taproot Foundation, and the Corporation for National and Community Service are at the forefront of the SBV movement. Through strong partnerships, they are showing the private and nonprofit sectors the way to successfully harness the power of skills-based volunteering to help nonprofits achieve their vital missions. For a comprehensive overview of SBV, you can download Skills-Based Volunteering: A New Generation of Service (PDF).
A Billion + Change
Led by the Corporation for National and Community Service,
A Billion + Change is the three-year campaign designed to put the expertise of the corporate sector to work on solving our most critical
social problems. In collaboration with Taproot Foundation, the Corporation’s goal is to recruit businesses in achieving pledges of $1billion of skills-based volunteer work through their employee volunteer programs.
If you or your company is ready to make a difference through employee volunteering, make a pledge on the A Billion + Change website.
What is Skills-Based Volunteering (SBV)?
Skills-based volunteering means leveraging the specialized skills and talents of individuals to strengthen the infrastructure of nonprofits, helping them build and sustain their capacity to successfully achieve their missions. Below are links to articles that discuss skills-based volunteering in more detail, and provide examples of corporate SBV programs and their benefits for nonprofit organizations, volunteers and companies.
- The Promise Employee Skill-Based Volunteering Holds for Employee Skills and Nonprofit Partner Effectiveness
- The New Volunteer Workforce
- Toward a New Definition of Pro Bono
- Cases Studies of Corporate Volunteering Programs
- Seeing Volunteers in a New Light
What SBV Means for Companies?
Good corporate citizenship is increasingly recognized as a key component of successful businesses, and skills-based volunteering is an effective way to improve a company’s reputation as a socially responsible organization. Read more about the benefits of SBV for companies (PDF).
These articles look at the specific benefits of skills-based volunteering and ways companies can invest in SBV as an effective form of social investment:
- A Blueprint for Pro Bono Program Development
- Key Considerations for Launching a Skills-Based Volunteer Program
- Pro Bono Strategic Consulting: The $1.5 Billion Opportunity (PDF)
- Deloitte 2011 Volunteer IMPACT Survey
- Can Corporate Volunteering Support the Bottom Line?
- The Business Case for Volunteering
What SBV Means for Nonprofits?
Skilled volunteers can help nonprofits do more with less by working on a wide variety of projects at no cost, including: creating marketing materials, developing new programs, training staff and raising money. Read more about the benefits of SBV for nonprofits (PDF).
Below are links to information nonprofit organizations can use to successfully engage and manage skills-based volunteers to enhance their organizations’ work.
- Nonprofit Readiness Toolkit
- Engaging Highly-Skilled Volunteers – The Competitive Edge
- Making Skills-based Volunteering Work
- Strengthening Leadership and Human Resources Capacity in the Nonprofit Sector (PDF)
- Effective Capacity Building in Nonprofit Organizations
- Skills-Based Volunteering Helps in Tight Economy
Skills-based volunteering opens the door to those seeking to use their personal and professional skills and talents to serve others. For those who volunteer through their employer’s SBV program, volunteering also provides a refreshing, creative change from daily work that enhances the overall work experience.Read more about the benefits of SBV for volunteers (PDF).
Below are links to organizations that connect individuals and companies with volunteer opportunities.
Individual volunteers can also make an impact on solving problems in their communities by taking the lead on “self-organizing” projects. By identifying a need and bringing people together to meet that need – often including members of social, faith-based or other organizations – individual volunteer leaders can help create lasting social change. Highly skilled volunteers providing pro bono consulting services are able to have a particularly strong impact on the inefficiency and effectiveness of a nonprofit, while benefitting from the meaningful and often life-changing experience of service.
SBV in the News
SBV is gaining recognition as a way for nonprofit organizations to better meet their missions by connecting them to a community of engaged, skilled professionals, and to return business value to companies seeking innovative strategies of community engagement.
- The Boston Globe: More Than a Helping Hand for Charities
- The Washington Post: Employers Encourage Workers to Volunteer
- Entrepreneur Magazine: Got Skills?
- Houston Business Journal: Skills-Based Volunteer Programs Benefit Both Sides of Equation
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy: It's Time to Focus on Volunteers' Results
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Can the Nonprofit World Handle a Flood of Helpers?
Intermediary SBV Experts
Intermediary organizations connect nonprofit organizations looking for skilled volunteers with companies seeking to put their employee volunteers’ expertise to work in our communities. Intermediaries are often nonprofits themselves, and they offer a number of services, including: working with nonprofits to identify their needs and define projects; partnering with companies to recruit skilled volunteers and match them to the right projects; and helping to manage projects and evaluate the results to ensure maximum impact. Read more about intermediary organizations (PDF).
Below are links to some of the organizations around the country that provide intermediary services.
Common Impact: CI’s employee engagement programs match employee volunteers with nonprofits in the Boston area, with a focus on technology, marketing, human resources and financial management.
Compass DC: Through pro bono strategic consulting, Compass strengthens the capacity, effectiveness and sustainability of Greater Washington DC nonprofits.
Executive Service Corps: Through a nationwide network of nonprofit consulting organizations, Executive Service Corps provides high quality, affordable consulting services and other technical assistance to nonprofits, schools and government agencies.
Give an Hour: Give an Hour recruits mental health professionals across the country to donate their time and expertise to returning service men and women.
The Jericho Road Project: With sites in Lowell, Lawrence and Worcester, JRP is pioneering the application of skills-based volunteers on nonprofit communities serving smaller, underserved cities in Massachusetts.
Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation:
The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation calls upon Lex Mundi’s unique global network of 160 top-tier commercial law firms to provide legal assistance to select “social entrepreneurs” on a pro bono basis.
Points of Light Institute/HandsOn Network: This nonprofit organization, whose mission is to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world, provides intermediary services through its network of over 250 volunteer centers across the country.
Pro Bono Institute: is a non-profit organization that provides research, consultative services, analysis and assessment, publications and training to a broad range of legal audiences.
Pro Bono Partnership: PBP provides nonprofit organizations in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York with free, expert business legal advice they cannot otherwise afford, enhancing their capacity to improve local communities and provide essential programs for the poor and disadvantaged.
Taproot Foundation: Operating in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, Taproot works to leverage top talent in support of communities' greatest needs. Lead Pro Bono: An organization created by the Taproot Foundation that works to increase access to high-quality pro bono services for public benefit organizations working to address society’s social, environmental and economic issues.