Skills-based volunteerism achieves results for non-profits and businesses

By Pete Parker 

Skills-based volunteerism has been around for ages, beginning primarily with pro bono work within the legal sector. In recent years, it has played an increasingly key role throughout the corporate sector.

According to the 2009 Deloitte IMPACT Study, skills-based volunteerism can best be described as:

  • Volunteerism which uses skills, experience, talents or education. Impacts corporations, organizations and individuals. Uses existing skills and develops new ones
  • Volunteerism which finds the intersection of high impact skills that match with characteristics needed by local nonprofits.
  • Individuals who volunteer their skills or talents or experience to support a nonprofit project or organization.

Non-profit organizations are highly driven in realizing their social missions, but they are often faced with business issues that hands-on volunteering cannot address and that financial contributions often cannot meet.

Skills-based volunteering is rapidly gaining recognition as a powerful driver of social impact and business value. “Skills-based volunteer programs provide valuable experiential learning opportunities for employees that build business and leadership skills without the expense often associated with traditional corporate training programs,” said Evan Hochberg, Deloitte Services LP national director of community involvement, in a press release.

The benefits of SBV (Skills-Based Volunteerism) count many and affect both the corporation providing the human capital, as well as the causes and organizations receiving the expertise. Below are just a handful of the benefits:

Corporate benefits of skills-based volunteerism:

  • Enhances existing and develops new employee skills
  • Expands corporate in-kind opportunity
  • Permits more in-depth relationships with non-profit organizations
  • Enhances reputation of company and its values

Benefits to non-profit organizations:

  • Access to needed management skills/expertise
  • An outside perspective on strategic issues
  • Helps solve organizational issues that staff are not able to take on
  • Volunteers = ambassadors, supporters
  • May lead to new donors

According to the Taproot Foundation, a nonprofit organization that makes business talent available to organizations working to improve society, pro bono service deepens your reputation as a good corporate citizen. The Foundation also states that:

  • Surveys show that corporate citizenship is now the top driver of reputation;
  • Companies engaged in corporate social responsibility had a 10-year return on equity that was 10% higher than their counterparts and a 10 year relative return to shareholders that was 65% higher;
  • Most Americans regard the donation of products and employee time more favorably than financial support; and,
  • The dollar valuation of an hour of pro bono service is nearly 10x that of traditional volunteer activities, adding significantly to your annual total community giving and impact.

Corporate leaders are just now beginning to recognize the value of skills-based volunteerism. Whether they hire executive leaders or local service brokers to manage these programs, they are recognizing positive benefits within their companies. “Corporate America has yet to fully tap the benefits of integrating skills-based volunteerism into talent development strategies and programs,” said Susan Burnett, Deloitte Services LP national director of talent development.

The Points of Light Institute, which strives to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world, is a leader in the volunteer-service movement. The organization believes that more agencies must seize the opportunity to leverage talent and that more businesses are eager to activate around their brand and core business.

Don’t hesitate to learn more about skills-based volunteerism and designing effective corporate-community investment programs, by contacting Pete Parker (; 775-333-9444).