Getting the right pro bono to the right nonprofit at the right time
It’s a common misconception that the bigger and more complex a pro bono initiative is, the higher the impact will be for nonprofits, your employees, and the company itself. In fact, the biggest determinant of a program’s impact is not its scale or complexity but the quality of the match between employees’ expertise and nonprofits’ needs. Great pro bono initiatives have one thing in common – the right support for the right nonprofit at the right time.
As pro bono practitioners, the Advisory Services team spends a lot of time getting this balance right. It might look a little mysterious from the outside, but there’s a system behind the matches we make. In this series we’re going to share that system with the field in the hope of promoting great pro bono initiatives, happy employees, and a stronger social sector. Our goal is to give you–our fellow practitioners–some new tools and ways of thinking about making great matches in your programs.
How to create great matches
The first key to making great matches is recognizing that there are two different types of pro bono support – technical and strategic. While both types of support can have a transformative impact on nonprofits, understanding the difference between them can help corporate practitioners drive more impact faster by making better matches between nonprofit need and available talent.
In part one of this series, we will explore the difference between technical and strategic support in more detail and provide a framework for thinking through the type of support that will be most beneficial for your nonprofit partners.
The second key to making great matches is aligning the right type of support with the intended impact on nonprofit organizations. We recently released a paper with our partners True Impact and Mastercard which includes a section that categorizes impact of pro bono projects in two ways – operational (<20% improvement across four specific metrics) and transformational (>20% improvement).
In part two of this series (coming soon), we will share a simple tool for aligning the pro bono support your initiative provides with the level of impact you’d like to create. This will help you make the right program design decisions while maximizing the benefits of your company’s support for community partners.
The third and final key to making great matches is aligning the type of support provided and the intended impact with your business goals. Different types of support lend themselves to different business goals. For example, a program focused on transformative strategy support is a great tool for leadership development, while a program focused on operational technical support can scale up quickly.
In part three of this series (coming soon), we will build on the tools presented in parts one and two to provide guidance that will help you achieve a true win-win-win for your nonprofit partners, your talent, and your company as a whole.