You did it—you took the leap and applied to share your professional skills with a social good organization through Taproot Plus. But before you dive into giving back, it’s time to figure out if this specific pro bono project is a good fit for you and the nonprofit’s team. It can be tough to land on which questions to ask during this first meeting. That’s where we come in.
Taproot is in the business of connecting nonprofits with volunteers like you who are uniquely skilled in areas where they have needs. One of the biggest steps in that process is getting to know the challenge you’ll be helping to tackle and the team or individual that you’d be working with.
Enter: The Nonprofit Interview
During the interview you’ll dig into what your potential partner wants to walk away from the project with, whether their timeline aligns with the time you have available to volunteer, and if you have the right skills too meet their goals. It’s also a chance for you to get a feel for the organization—after all, we want to make sure this is a great experience for you and for the nonprofit. With years of experience collaborating with volunteers to find great pro bono matches, we’ve identified five of the most important questions you can ask during the interview process:
If you’re a nonprofit looking for tips on what to ask a potential volunteer, check out these ideas instead.
1. What is your organization all about?
It’s a straightforward question, but the interview is a great opportunity to hear about their work directly from the source. Asking gives them a chance to delve deeper into their mission, their history, and how they operate. This additional context on top of your research about their work will help you decide if their mission is in line with your own interests.
2. What’s in scope and what’s not?
Scope creep is one of the most common reasons we see pro bono partnerships fizzle out without a successful outcome. Nailing down the specifics of the project is vital to ensure it all comes together. Ask the organization to lay out exactly what they’re hoping to accomplish together, clarifying the scope of what your work will (and won’t) include.
3. Do you have a project timeline in mind?
This question helps both of you manage expectations right from the get-go. Ask about the urgency and flexibility of the project and be as transparent with your availability and other commitments as possible.
It’s also a great time to share your communications preferences and how many hours you expect to be able to volunteer per week.
4. How is your organization going to use our project outcome?
Here at Taproot the mantra behind our work is “Make it Matter,” and that’s exactly how you should approach your own volunteer work. Asking how they intend to use the work you complete gives you a clearer perspective on the project itself. Asking may also encourage them to form or finalize an implementation plan to ensure that your finished deliverable is used instead of shelved for later.
5. Is there anything else that would be helpful for me to know?
We’ve all been there: you end a conversation and only then realize that you’ve forgotten to mention something important. Asking if the organization has anything left to share gives them a chance to reflect and make sure you have all the information you need to make a decision. It may seem like an obvious question, but it’s one of the most important. The nonprofit interview is your chance to determine whether this pro bono opportunity is the right fit for you (and your schedule).
Great pro bono means following the Golden Rule of Pro Bono: treat every project as if it were a paid project. That means approaching interviews with nonprofits as if you were applying for a position they are filling. We’ve found that sticking to this standard helps create the best experiences and outcomes for volunteers, nonprofits, and the communities they serve.