A Q&A with Net Impact and Taproot Foundation’s Eileen Yang on how professionals and corporations can maximize pro bono impact. This article was originally published on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog.
Pro bono service, when executed thoughtfully, can deliver big benefits to nonprofits, professionals, and, increasingly, large corporations. But there are pitfalls that can derail the process. Taproot Foundation’s Eileen Yang knows how to help skilled professionals avoid wasting both their own time and that of the nonprofits they serve.
As a senior consultant with Taproot’s Advisory Services practice, Eileen helps clients (mostly corporations) create, launch, and scale pro bono initiatives to bolster public-private partnerships and drive sustainable social change.
As Net Impact celebrates Pro Bono Week (October 20-26) by co-hosting a pro bono training session with Taproot at our upcoming conference, we asked Eileen to share her take on what makes a successful pro bono project and why pro bono is so valuable for participants.
April: What distinguishes pro bono from volunteerism?
Eileen: Pro bono is a type of volunteerism in which volunteers donate their professional skills and services (such as marketing, legal guidance, human resources, and technology) to promote the public good.
The average value of hands-on volunteerism is approximately $20 per hour, whereas the average value of pro bono is approximately $120 per hour. As a result, when pro bono and regular volunteerism are lumped together, companies may not accurately calculate the full breadth of impact and value that they are providing the sector, nor the invaluable team-building and skills development that employees participating in pro bono are gaining.
Aside from receiving personal gratification from helping an organization, how do professionals benefit from doing pro bono?
It’s not news that our Millennial generation cares about social impact and pursuing socially responsible careers. In a recent study, MBAs from top schools reported that they would sacrifice 14 percent of their salaries to work at socially responsible companies. Out of the top 25 business schools, 20 have pro bono and nonprofit consulting programs. Numbers don’t lie: The Millennial generation wants to create social impact with their skills and talent, and not just with their checkbooks or by spending a day in a soup kitchen.
Professionals reap huge benefits from doing pro bono. They can leverage pro bono as an opportunity to hone current skills in a new context, and stretch themselves and apply new skills. Corporations reap huge benefits too–so much so that more companies are doing pro bono to directly benefit their business, such as learning about a new market, gaining customer insights, and retaining/recruiting talent. It’s a win-win-win for corporations, employees, and the social sector…