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Skills-based Volunteers Can Help Meet the Need of Nonprofits


For many nonprofit organizations, access to skills and best practices is their top priority — or at least a close-second priority right after fundraising. Even for under-funded nonprofit organizations, skills-based volunteers can offer substantial benefits.

What Do Nonprofits Need From Pro Bono Services?

And how can skills-based volunteers and worthy nonprofits both benefit from their collaboration?

In a podcast a couple of years ago, Megan Kashner, a clinical assistant professor and director of social impact at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, explained the value of skills-based volunteering to short-staffed nonprofits.

“When I think about a professional—Jan in accounting or Chris in marketing—and I think about that person wondering, “What can I do?” The very first thing I think is, “Well, you’re an accountant. You’re a marketer.

“The nonprofit sector and startup social entrepreneurs are hungry for help, for pro-bono support, for project work, for skills-based volunteering from people who have hard skills that they’re willing to bring over and help a nonprofit by using.

Those of us with eager, engaged employees know the talent, skills, and leadership skilled volunteers bring to the table.

Kashner added, “The first question is getting the scoping and understanding right up front. What’s in this project; what’s not in this project? What is the timetable for this project? What are the key deliverables? How often will we communicate?”

Successful Partnerships Require Clear Communication

As both parties begin a partnership, they will benefit from answering these questions.

  1. In which capacity will the proposed project use volunteers?
  2. How many volunteers will the organization need?
  3. Who will recruit and manage project volunteers?
  4. Will there be a staff member responsible for volunteer resources management?
  5. Is the volunteer plan realistic in terms of time and scope?
  6. How will the skills-based volunteers enhance or support the project goals?
  7. What additional training, supervision, or evaluation strategies related to volunteer involvement will be needed in this project?

In my years of experience, I find the greatest need of nonprofits, as they collaborate with skilled volunteers, is for overall project management.

We encourage organizations to identify a tangible result for every pro bono project to maximize progress and measure success against clear expectations. Results can be hard to measure, and an experienced third-party intermediary can be valuable to help expedite the process.

Training the skills-based volunteers on how to work within the frameworks of nonprofits improves the experience.

I recommend this article by our friend Angela Parker at Realized Worth , The 8 Essential Skills of Volunteer Leaders, for some practical steps to take.

Volunteer Program Management Software Streamlines the Process

The ideal integrated software will offer:

Connection—Nonprofits can search the clients’ sites by keyword, skill set, or location to find the right expert.

Personalization—Prospective volunteers create profiles to help soften the fear and intimidation by including some of their non-work lives.

Easy-to-Navigate User Experience—Our goal is to remove obstacles that may prevent the nonprofit from accessing the help of skills-based volunteers.

Relationship Building—Nonprofits are welcome to request help to prepare their team projects application as it can be intimidating.

We realize nonprofit staff and board members may not have the time, training, or experience to create project proposals. It can also be confusing to decide which experts to pair with specific projects so our software expedites the process.

The Revere platform addresses the concerns of both nonprofits and corporate partners by creating a program that makes it easy for everyone to collaborate.

Let us show you how the Revere skills-based volunteering platform can help you connect your employees with organizations that need their expertise. Please schedule a demo.