By Lindsay Firestone, Director of Advisory Services, Taproot Foundation
This is an installment of Taproot’s Back to Basics series, focusing on the helpful building blocks for developing a successful corporate pro bono program.
Over the past several years there has been tremendous growth in corporate pro bono service. From the growth of new programs, to the piloting of new models, to new industries starting to participate, it has been thrilling to see this concept truly flourish. In that time we’ve produced many new resources and tools to help companies along the way, but in the last 5 years since it was first shared at Taproot’s 2008 Pro Bono Summit, one resource has been cited, referenced and linked more than any other: our Spectrum of Corporate Community Engagement.
With so many different ways your company can engage its employees to support nonprofits, it can be difficult to organize and understand the range of opportunities available. I created this diagram back in 2008 to help clear things up. I started with a simplified categorization of the operating needs of a nonprofit organization. Layered under it are the types of support companies generally provide nonprofits to meet those needs. This support spans from funding to hands-on volunteering and the use of general skills to building the infrastructure and leadership capacity overall.
It is in this last category that pro bono service falls as a type of skill-based volunteerism that focuses on leveraging the direct professional expertise of volunteers to deliver professional services at a caliber an organization would otherwise have to pay for on the market. While this diagram isn’t perfect, it establishes a sense of the spectrum of options your employees have to support the organizations you care about, and provide some helpful categorizations for activities you currently offer.
To add another perspective, our friends at the Gap Foundation took this list and asked the question: How does this spectrum map against two of the most common internal corporate measures of a program, number of employees you can engage, and the depth of the impact on the organization? The result was this helpful diagram. We’ve heard from companies that this tool is a great way to start a conversation about what your program goals are and what mix of opportunities you might want to provide in order to maximize your engagement and impact.
We’ll love to hear from you in the comments section below. How have you used these tools?