3 Keys to Pitching Pro Bono Opportunities for Your Nonprofit

August 20, 2019 Danielle Holly

Over the last year, we’ve done our best to extol the benefits of skills-based volunteerism to npEngage readers, offering best practices for and case studies on pro bono service. From the response you’ve provided, we know many of you are eager to engage in this work and are looking for the best way to approach potential skilled volunteers – either as individuals or through a corporate partnership.

With volunteerism and employee engagement on the rise, your nonprofit can take advantage of this trend by offering a skilled volunteer opportunity rather than a traditional day of hands-on service. In fact, skills-based volunteerism has emerged in response to both corporate and nonprofit desires to make the most out of community service. Leveraging a volunteer’s talents and skills set, in addition to their time, can exponentially increase positive impact for your organization.

At Common Impact, we’ve identified three keys that will help you confidently structure a pro bono project, identify organizational challenges your potential partner could help solve, and propose a skills-based volunteer engagement that meets your nonprofit’s needs and supports the interest of the volunteers.

  1. First, your organization should understand trends in corporate community engagement. The business case for pro bono is a great tool for nonprofit staff to use when looking to steer the conversation and engagement towards a skills-based model.

Companies are increasingly focused on supporting the professional development of their employees and helping them engage in causes that they care about most. Employees often select their employer based on their record of community service and their desire to develop a purpose-driven career. More than 75% of companies now engage in social impact initiatives, and pro bono represents a significant and growing share of these programs – more than 50% at last count by CECP. Pro bono provides companies with a way to simultaneously invest in their employees’ workplace skills and talents, engage their employees in value-driven work and deliver on their organization’s community goals.

Check out Step 1 – Learn about skills-based volunteerism on Capacity Commons to get more information on the importance of pro bono service.

  1. Second, knowledge of different models of pro bono service to identify which will work for your organization and your needs.

There are several ways you can engage volunteers in pro bono. Which model is best will depend on the unique match between your organization’s needs and your volunteer group’s goals and requirements for engagement. Is your executive director steering the organization through a particularly challenging time? A full-time executive coach from the ranks of your corporate partner’s leadership could provide critical guidance and support. Has your organization just finished re-rebranding? A large group of marketing volunteers could spend the day updating your collateral to reflect your new brand. Is your IT on its last leg? A few technology volunteers could work together over time to assess your technology needs and design the ideal infrastructure for your operating environment.

Step 3 – Scope you project on Capacity Commons can help you with finding the right fit for a skills-based volunteer engagement.

  1. Third, a framework for approaching a corporate partner and building a partnership that delivers measurable value to your organization.

To lead this conversation, you will need to investigate your corporate partner’s overall approach to community impact and their specific goals and requirements for this engagement. How does your partner envision and measure success in a social impact initiative? You must also be ready to communicate your organization’s needs, and what type of volunteer engagement you can support. A successful engagement will achieve a strategic alignment between these elements and will allow you to communicate meaningful results.

One way to ensure you are creating an impactful project is to measure the value with the tools and resources available in Step 6 – Evaluate on Capacity Commons.

With the quick check-list above and the tools and resources available on Capacity Commons,  we hope you have the confidence to guide interested volunteers and partners towards service opportunities that will make a lasting impact on your organization and your shared community. As always, please share any additional advice you may have on engaging volunteer groups or corporate partners in skilled service in the comments below!

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