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Pro Bono Service Seen As Top Volunteer Need

July 23, 2012

According to a recent survey of nonprofit organizations, over 66% of nonprofits need pro bono services more than any other type of volunteer service.

The survey, conducted by LBG Associates through a collaborative including Common Impact, Points of Light and the Taproot Foundation, and funded by Capital One, was designed to help identify core challenges and solutions related to pro bono services and skills-based volunteering.

The survey revealed the following areas of need for nonprofits:

  • Marketing and branding (78%)
  • Technology (70%)
  • Strategic planning and management (51%)
  • Human resources and leadership development (40%)

Despite this need for pro bono volunteer services, 25% of nonprofits reported that they had never used pro bono services and 47% of that group attributed this to a lack of knowledge about how to access pro bono services. Other reasons cited by nonprofits included a general lack of awareness about pro bono support, insufficient resources to manage a project, and uncertainty as to whether they were ready for pro bono help.

75% of respondents said that they would be more likely to seek pro bono support if they could easily identify specific projects and better understand how volunteer time could be used to improve their operations.

"There are many untapped opportunities for corporations and nonprofits to achieve mutual goals through pro bono services and skills-based volunteering, but…nonprofits need a better grasp on the kind of volunteerism that will generate long-term benefit to their organizations," said Selena Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer of Common Impact.

Accordingly, the collaborative has developed an on-line Readiness Roadmap that will help nonprofits understand their needs and what kind of pro bono services might be available to them. The Readiness Roadmap was piloted at the recent National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Chicago, and it includes resources to address:

  • Project readiness assessments
  • Pro bono and skills-based volunteer sourcing
  • Project planning
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation and post-project volunteer recognition

When we launched our new pro bono service program, Serve2Gether Consulting, at American Express this spring (see my April 23, 2012 blog posting), we focused on the following eight practice areas, which are consistent with some of the nonprofit needs mentioned above:

  • Key Messages and Brand Strategy
  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Building Customer Relationships
  • Targeting New Audiences
  • Peer Benchmarking
  • Strategic Planning Preparation
  • Performance Management

While we recruited nonprofit projects through an invitation-only process, one of the critical components of the pilot project was utilizing the expertise of the Taproot Foundation in screening the proposals and ensuring the readiness of the nonprofits for these pro bono projects.

We look forward to seeing the results of this on-line Readiness Roadmap initiative when it launches nationwide later this year, and applaud the collaborating organizations, Common Impact, Points of Light and Taproot Foundation, for designing it. We’re ready!

If you have a comment or question on pro bono volunteer service, please share it by clicking here.

P.S. Did you know that A Billion + Change is a national campaign that hopes to generate billions of dollars in pro bono service by 2013? American Express has made a pro bono pledge as part of this campaign.


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