January 19, 2018

Strategically Engaging Skills-Based and Pro Bono Volunteers

What’s old is new again as nonprofit organizations increasingly turn to skills-based and pro bono volunteers to help sustain and build organizational capacity.  As the need for nonprofit services increase and financial resources remain tight, many organizations are actively engaging highly skilled volunteers to provide everything from technical support to marketing to human resources to strategic planning services.

Even if your board members are successful in recruiting pro bono resources, this thought-provoking webinar will provide you with tips and tools for building an integrated approach to citizen engagement that will support your organization’s mission and strategic goals.

Participants will:

  • Review background, overview and skills-based, pro bono potential
  • Identify pro bono projects
  • Examine a simple organizational needs assessment
  • Know when pro bono is not the answer
  • Learn how to create a pro bono culture within your organization

Asking for Advice

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard 003I just read the article, Is Your Association Courageous Enough to Ask for Advice? The premise is that associations should be broadening their conversation and engaging industry practitioners regardless of their member status. The article went on to say that associations don’t react to disruptive innovations until it’s too late because they are focused on fulfilling the needs of their current members while ignoring the needs of future members.

I’ve been working for, speaking to and consulting with healthcare volunteer programs throughout the US for several decades. I’ve watched most auxiliaries, in particular, peak about twenty years ago. At that time, the majority of hospital’s required member-only-status before an individual could be a volunteer. Today, as the average age of many auxiliary members creeps up to 75 years, those barriers to member-only service are finally breaking down and hospital administrators are realizing that volunteers can play an important role in solving strategic issues such as enhancing patient-centered care and raising HCAPHS scores. But, unfortunately, for some auxiliaries, they’ve waited too long to engage in critical conversations, strategically plan and prepare for their future members. Many are now disbanding or being pushed aside. And, as they go, so goes the careers of some hospital volunteer directors.

Surveys and research have long shown that next generation volunteers often want short term, flexible, and project-based opportunities. They want lots of choice when selecting their volunteer position, and are increasingly saying that they will volunteer if they can utilize their skills and talents. While this trend was identified at least twenty years ago, most organizations have been slow to offer multiple-choice volunteer opportunities.

The latest disruptive innovation in the volunteer engagement world has been gaining steam thanks to the Taproot Foundation. Taproot’s mission is to make “pro bono business talent available to organizations that seek to improve our society.”

Pro bono — short for pro bono publico, “for the public good” — has come to mean professional services delivered at low or no cost to social change organizations. Taproot defines it as professional services (marketing, legal guidance, human resources, fundraising, technology, financial consulting, and so on) donated to a nonprofit to further its mission.

Taproot estimates that professionals donate over $15 billion a year in pro bono services—that’s four times the amount donated by corporate foundations every year. And, many businesses with a supply of skilled professionals are being overlooked by cash-strapped nonprofits.

A 2006 Deloitte / Points of Light Volunteer IMPACT study found that “77 percent of nonprofit leaders believe that skilled volunteers could significantly improve their organization’s business practices, yet only 12 percent of nonprofits actually put volunteers to work on such assignments. Furthermore, this study found that 40 percent of volunteers actively look for opportunities to apply their professional skills.”

One of Taproot’s solutions to the problem of underutilized pro bono talent has been to publish Powered by Pro Bono–a step-by-step guide to securing and managing pro bono resources through sound project management. Taproot is also working with LinkedIn to connect skilled professionals with nonprofit organizations.

Why are so few nonprofits rolling out the welcome mat to our community’s professional and trades people, entrepreneurs and retirees? We have laws that say nonprofits must have a board of directors. Should there be a law to compel nonprofits to utilize skill based and pro bono talent? Of course not, but I wonder if, at some point, foundations will be looking for pro bono utilization as a measure of who gets their financial support.

So, how do we create the groundwork for a future that’s already arrived? How do we plan for this latest innovative disruption?

If, as Taproot says, the pro bono movement holds the keys to innovative solutions, do we have the courage to engage in greater conversations and get advice from more community members and volunteers–both inside and outside the nonprofit sector. Are we willing to open our doors wider by asking these individuals to lead a team, manage a project or serve on a task force or advisory council?

Boomers are retiring. LinkedIn professionals say they will volunteer if they can utilize their skills. More than 500 companies across the country have committed over $2 billion worth of skills-based volunteer services to nonprofits. A movement is a foot. More and more of us are out there—just waiting to be asked!

 

Related articles:

Is Your Association Courageous Enough to Ask for Advice? by Deirdre Reid on June 12, 2013. Posted in Association Best Practices, Social Media

#SHRMAdvice- Learning to Serve a New Audience, Paul Herbert

A Billion Plus Change Inspires Largest Commitment of Pro Bono Service in History, Post by Yvonne Siu, June 21, 2013

Beyond Cash:  Taproot Foundation to Collaborate with Hewlett Packard and LinkedIn to Build Online Pro Bono Marketplace,  Press Release

 

 

 

Social Entrepreneurship: Matchmaking Marketplace and Missions

Social Entrepreneurship: Matchmaking Marketplace and Missions
Author: Fonda Kendrick, VolunteerHub.com

Effects of the economy are continuing to change how the world works on many levels. For nonprofits, one of these adjustments comes in the form of exploring alternative funding sources. As such, the idea of social entrepreneurship is beginning to take a firmer hold. J. Gregory Dees, founder of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, explains this movement: “It combines the passion of a social mission with an image of business-like discipline, innovation, and determination commonly associated with, for instance, the high-tech pioneers of Silicon Valley.”

The buzzword is a somewhat recent development (within the last few decades), but the practice of social entrepreneurship is not new. According to brighthub.com, it can be traced back as early as the 18th century and includes legendary figures such as Florence Nightingale, who established the first nursing school; Maria Montessori, famous for her early education methods; and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, known for his initiatives to pull the United States out of the Great Depression.

A recent Courier Post Online article gives some examples of present-day social entrepreneurship successes:

  • Established in 1963, Seattle’s Pioneer Human Services achieves its mission of helping those with mental health, substance abuse, or criminal histories with profits made from several endeavors. Business activities such as warehousing, food service, manufacturing, and distribution now fund a whopping 99 percent of the assistance program.
  • A Zen Buddhist meditation group led by Bernard Tetsugen Glassman, a former aerospace engineer, started Greyston Bakery in 1982. The Yonkers, New York-based business takes the traditional bake sale concept of fund raising to a whole new level. Its website states, “We don’t hire people to bake brownies. We bake brownies to hire people.” Here, the sale of brownies funds such projects as affordable child care, health care for HIV patients, housing for homeless individuals, and technology education. The bakery provides desserts to top-notch New York City restaurants and also has become the sole-source for brownies used in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
  • In 2009, Columbus, Ohio-area Lutheran Social Services invested $40,000 in its Freshbox Catering company. The program looked to the business world for leadership and hired an investment analyst to head up the program. The result was $130,000 in sales the first year. While the fact that the program is paying for itself is amazing, Freshbox is also achieving its greater mission of providing jobs and training for the homeless.

[Read more…]

Tax Incentives For Volunteering?

Tax Incentives For Volunteering?
Peter Funt, second generation Candid Camera host, has turned his attention to more serious topics lately. In the past several years, Funt has written op-ed pieces, some of which have been picked up by The Boston Globe.

One of his recent articles, arguing in favor of tax breaks for Americans who volunteer their time, was picked up by the media in late December 2010. Funt is certainly not the first to bring this concept to the table, but his idea is receiving press throughout the country. Newspapers in at least twelve states carried the column, and a Google search shows that it has also been posted on several blogs.

In his article, Funt argues that unpaid volunteers in the U.S. should receive a federal tax credit that “would help Americans at all income levels pay a bit less, while also providing some benefit to the unemployed.” Following are his main talking points:

  • Volunteers should be allowed to claim $5.69 per hour donated. (This figure is based on 25 percent of the average hourly rate for all American civilian employees.)
  • Credits could be rolled over for up to five years.
  • Organizations participating must be qualified non-profits.
  • The cost to federal government for a volunteer tax credit using his proposal is estimated at $1 billion per year.

Funt acknowledges that his idea would create more paperwork for non-profits, but points out that documentation for monetary donations is already being generated. He also believes this proposal would alleviate some of the imbalance between paid workers and volunteers working side by side at the same agency. Giving a nod to possible abuses, Funt states, “But whom should the IRS worry about more: the billionaire who bends the rules when claiming a five-digit deduction, or the… (volunteer) who adds 15 minutes to his time sheet?”
[Read more…]

Why Volunteers Stop Serving

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard 114
Introduction

In spite of the economic downturn, many individuals continue to serve in their communities–helping their neighbors and organizing service projects.

In  2008, 61.8 million adults donated approximately 8 billion hours of time, and yet, over one-third of these individuals (35.5%) stopped volunteering and did not serve with any organization the following year.  This high rate of volunteer turnover has forced nonprofits to focus on replacing volunteers instead of maximizing impact and building organizational capacity.

A July 2009 report titled Pathways to Service posted on Volunteering In America identified five barriers that may keep individuals from volunteering or returning to service.

Key Findings

1.  Personal invitations to serve are more appealing to prospective volunteers.

Many individuals said they had never volunteered because they had never been asked. These same non-volunteers also said that if they were asked, they would be open to volunteering.

Organizations need to address this misconception in order to effectively recruit new volunteers.  Having existing volunteers share their stories can help non-volunteers see that they are just like those who serve.
[Read more…]