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Making the Match: A 3-Part Series for Corporate Pro Bono Leaders from Taproot

Getting the right pro bono to the right nonprofit at the right time

SOURCE: Taproot Foundation


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, Taproot Foundation's 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.

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.

Oliver Gould is a consultant in Taproot’s Advisory Services practice.  He brings a background in nonprofit management, impact evaluation and strategy to the Taproot Advisory Services team. A problem-solver at heart, he’s passionate about finding creative ways for private sector talent to support the public good. He’ll know pro bono has finally “made it” when Congress calls in pro bono consultants to apply lean management to the budget process.    

About the Taproot Foundation
Taproot Foundation, a U.S. based nonprofit, connects nonprofits and social change organizations with passionate, skilled volunteers who share their expertise pro bono. Taproot is creating a world where organizations dedicated to social change have full access—through pro bono service—to the marketing, strategy, HR, and IT resources they need to be most effective. Since 2001, Taproot’s skilled volunteers have served 4,600 social change organizations providing 1.5 million hours of work worth over $160 million in value. Taproot is located in New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. and is leading a network of global pro bono providers in over 30 countries around the world.

Tweet me: .@taprootfound shares how they get the right #probono to the right #nonprofit at the right time. Find out how:

Contact Info:

Oliver Gould
Taproot Foundation

KEYWORDS: Responsible Business & Employee Engagement, Philanthropy & Cause Initiatives, Taproot Foundation

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