A group of Fortune 500 companies pledged to commit a total of more than $110 million in pro-bono services to nonprofits at the recent Summit on Corporate Volunteerism in New York.
Convened by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, the conference brought together 120 business, government and nonprofit leaders to launch a national campaign to engage more businesses in service-oriented collaborations with their communities.
But many of these companies, saying volunteering is not enough, hope to leverage their employees’ workplace skills to address fundamental organizational needs in the nation’s understaffed nonprofits.
For nonprofits, this shift towards pro-bono, skilled volunteering means fewer employee park cleaning days and more free website design by high-level professionals, or more advice on restructuring food-bank delivery systems from top operations management experts.
“Nonprofits are tackling our toughest problems of crime, poverty, disease and illiteracy,” Stephen Goldsmith, chairman of the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service, says in a statement. “They are doing extraordinary work, but sometimes lack the capacity for large-scale change,” he says. “Engaging millions of professionals in pro bono service would have a profound impact on the nonprofit sector’s ability to meet social needs.”
While a recent survey found that almost nine in 10 nonprofit leaders realize the value of their volunteers’ workplace skills, almost two-thirds of those leaders’ organizations lack corporate volunteering partnerships.
Pro-bono work is already common in legal circles, and summit attendees hope to expand that trend into new sectors like marketing, finance, technology and management consulting.
Deloitte LLP pledged up to $50 million for employee pro-bono activities over the next three years and plans to take a more strategic approach to the charitable efforts that fall under this commitment, establishing formal budgets, policies and procedures.
A number of companies made specific commitments to establish or expand skilled volunteering programs, including Intel; IBM; Accenture’ Harvard Business School Community Partners; Taproot Foundation; and Manning, Selvage, and Lee, Public Architecture.
An additional group pledged to become champions of pro-bono work. These include Citi; General Electric; ING; UPS; Monitor Group; Entrepreneur Foundation; Target; McKenna, Long, and Aldridge; National Geographic Society; and Butler Rubin, Saltarelli & Boyd LLP.
The President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation was created by President Bush in 2003 to bring business, entertainment, sports, education, government, nonprofits and the media together in community service work.