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Why Expand Pro Bono Service and Skills-Based Volunteering

When one sector tries on its own to solve social problems like poverty, illiteracy, homelessness or crime, the nation comes up short. These complex social problems require collaboration among businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies. Each sector has its own set of skills, and by combining these skill sets strategically, even the most daunting challenges can be met.

Corporate pro bono programs represent the optimal collaboration between business and nonprofits. And the results to date have been remarkable. These skilled volunteer programs are helping America’s nonprofits serve communities in need and simultaneously provide an outstanding return on investment.

Pro bono and skills-based volunteering partnerships give nonprofits access to the business skills and experience they need to develop and implement sound business strategies, increase their capabilities, and improve their organizational infrastructure. By contributing business services and skills to nonprofits, corporate pro bono programs are improving people’s lives while adding significant value to their own recruitment, productivity, and profitability.

Yet despite these multiple mutual benefits …

  • 62% of nonprofits do not work with any companies that provide volunteers.
  • Just 12% percent of nonprofits typically align tasks with volunteers’ specific workplace skills.
  • Only 19% of volunteers say their workplace skills are the primary service they provide when they support a nonprofit organization. (Source: 2006 Deloitte/Points of Light Volunteer IMPACT Study)

Let’s explore pro bono volunteering and see how:

It’s good for business

  • 64% of executives say that corporate citizenship produces a tangible contribution to the bottom line. At large companies, 84% of execs see direct bottom‐line benefits. (Source: Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College and Business Civic Leadership Center, 2005)
  • 70% of Americans say that a company’s commitment to social issues is an important factor in deciding which stocks and mutual funds to invest in. (Source: The 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study)
  • 86% of Americans say they are likely to switch from one brand to another that is about the same in price and quality if the other brand is associated with a social/community cause. (Source: The 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study)
  • Publicity garnered from pro bono activities is less likely to be viewed as self-serving than traditional advertising. (Source: Making the Business Case for Pro Bono, The Pro Bono Institute, 2000)
  • Companies engaged in corporate social responsibility had a 10-year positive return on equity that was 10% higher than their counterparts and a 10-year relative return to shareholders that was 65% higher. (Source: Graves & Walker, 2000)
  • Giving professionals concur that skill-development programs are one of the most successful types of corporate volunteer initiatives, while paid sabbaticals, where employees are disengaged, are considered least successful. (Source: 2007 Giving in Numbers, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy)

It’s good for employees

  • Employees’ perception of a company’s corporate citizenship affects employee morale, spirit and pride, trust in their employer, and a willingness to recommend their employer as a good place to work (Source: GolinHarris survey, 2005)
  • 81% of Americans take into consideration a company’s commitment to a social issue when deciding where to work. (Source: Cone Corporate Citizenship Study, 2004)
  • Companies that help their employees volunteer their professional skills to nonprofits have a leg up in recruiting Generation Y talent. Nearly two‐thirds (62%) of 18–26 year‐olds said they’d prefer to work for companies that allow them to contribute their talents to nonprofit organizations. (Source: April 2007 Volunteer IMPACT survey by Deloitte & Touche USA)
  • Employees who work for organizations involved in the community are more likely to be engaged at work and stay with the company. (Source: Walker Information, 2003)
  • Baby boomers see service as a core part of their life going forward, are looking for well‐managed volunteer opportunities to leverage their skills and have a large concentration of transferable skills. (Source: Taproot Foundation)
  • Pro bono projects and recognition events give employees the opportunity to get to know each other in a positive way and instill a sense of pride in the company. (Source: Making the Business Case for Pro Bono, The Pro Bono Institute, 2000)
  • Volunteers agree that the experience improves motivation and enhances decision-making, problem-solving, teamwork, negotiating, and delegation skills. (Source: 2005 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT, Opinion Research Corporation)

Skilled volunteers are crucial to communities

Corporate pro bono bridges a crucial gap by providing nonprofits with the tools they need to achieve the scale, sustainability, and effective delivery of services that truly make a difference in our communities.

  • There are more than 6.7 million professionals in corporate America with the skills necessary to help address the nonprofit sector’s most critical needs. (Taproot Foundation)
  • 89% of nonprofit directors and managers realize that volunteers’ workplace skills are extremely or very valuable to their organizations. (Source: 2006 Deloitte/Points of Light Volunteer IMPACT Study)
  • 77% of nonprofit leaders agree that their organizations could benefit significantly from corporate volunteers focusing on business practices improvements. (Source: Taproot Foundation)
  • Volunteers who were offered more challenging opportunities to perform professional or management activities (such as strategic planning, marketing, and budgeting) have higher volunteer retention rates. (Source: Volunteering in America: 2007 State Trends and Rankings, Corporation for National and Community Service)