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Should Businesses be Pro, Pro Bono?

February 21, 2012

Taproot Foundation and Pro Bono Lab have recently released a report entitled, "Demonstrating the Business Value of Pro Bono Service." If you're Interested in pro bono or skills-based volunteer service in the corporate environment, it's worth downloading.

Taproot Foundation is a nonprofit organization that makes business talent available to nonprofit organizations through corporate teams working together on pro bono consulting projects. Pro Bono Lab is a French nonprofit organization that offers mission-driven organizations capacity building services by partnering and engaging volunteers in pro bono projects.

The report begins with an overview of the evolving nature of Corporate Social Responsibility and a description of how pro bono volunteer services can help support business objectives by bolstering employee morale, developing talents, improving the company's reputation, and driving internal innovation.

Using examples from GlaxoSmithKline's PULSE Volunteer Program, Deloitte's Pro Bono Program, IBM's Corporate Service Corps, The Nerdery's Website Challenge, and UPS's Logistics Emergency Teams, this reports outlines some of the business benefits of engaging employees in pro bono or skills-based volunteering, including:

  • Pro bono can be leveraged as an innovative, attractive and cost-effective professional development program.
  • Pro bono boosts employees' pride and increases staff engagement and job satisfaction.
  • Pro bono promotes good corporate citizenship through high community impact and the effective leveraging of its employees' unique skills within those very same communities.
  • Pro bono is proven to foster internal communication and enhance teamwork skills when projects are performed in teams.
  • Pro bono is an effective way of generating positive public relations and showcasing the company's unique expertise.
  • Pro bono can broaden the company's network and help build relationships with strategic stakeholders that indirectly impact the bottom line.
  • Pro bono helps a company build and maintain its license to operate, defined as a firm's public legitimacy to conduct its activities.
  • Through pro bono projects, employees gain valuable customer insight and may develop new services and products to meet social needs that can be then added to the company's commercial offering and brought to a broader market.
  • Pro bono projects allow a company to broaden its reach beyond its existing markets and customer base.

While American Express has a long history of engaging our employees in pro bono or skills-based volunteering programs, we haven't had a formal, company-wide program like those of Deloitte or IBM. That will change this spring when we launch Serve2Gether Consulting, our new pro bono consulting practice for nonprofit organizations. Watch for more details about this effort through this blog.

In the meantime, if you have a comment or would like to describe the pro bono efforts of your company, or pro bono services that you've received as a nonprofit organization, please share them by clicking here.


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