Pro-bono work tops nonprofits’ volunteer needs

Nonprofits need pro-bono services to improve their operational infrastructure far more than they need hands-on support delivering services directly to the community either from skills-based or traditional volunteers, a new survey says.

Still, nonprofits face challenges making productive use of volunters, says the Pro Bono Readiness Survey conducted by LBG Research Institute for a collaborative convened by Capital One Financial Corporation and including Common Impact, Points of Light and the Taproot Foundation.

While 66 percent of 1,348 nonprofits surveyed said they need pro-bono services more than any other volunteer service, roughly 73 percent said they would be more likely to see pro-bono suport if they could identify specific projects and better understand how volounteer time can be used to improve their infrastructure.

Forty-eight percent of nonprofit surveyed, for example, did not know external resources are available to assess capacity-building and infrastructure issues.

Roughly 25 percent of nonprofit surveyed never have used pro-bono services, with 47 percent of that group citing a lack of knowledge about how to obtain pro-bono work, and others citing a general lack of awareness about pro-bono support, insufficient resources to manage a project, and uncertainty about whether or not they were ready for pro-bono help.

The survey identified hurdles to putting effective pro-bono projects into place.

While over 85 percent of respondents found pro-bono support helpful, for example, 46 percent did not know how to sustain the project results without external support.

And roughly 40 percent that used pro-bono servcies involving unusual systems or technologies had the technical infrastructure to support the outcomes.

Over 58 percent said they needed stronger project-planning and time-management resources, and 36 percent were not familiar with project-management tools, with another 40 percent saying they were somewhat familiar with those tools.

Management “bandwidth” was a key challenge for nearly 45 percent of nonprofits surveyed.

Over 78 percent of nonprofits surveyed needed pro-bono marketing and branding support, 70 percent needed technology support, over 51 percent needed strategic planning and management support, and over 40 percent needed human-resources and leadership-development support.

“There are many untapped opportunities for corporations and nonprofits to achieve mutual goals through pro-bono services and skills-based volunteering, Selena Schmidt, CEO of Common Impact, says in a statement. “But as the survey demonstrates, nonprofits need a better grasp on the kind of volunteerism that will genrate long-term benefit to their organizations.”

The collaborative is developing an online Readiness Roadmap to help nonprofits understand their their operating needs and the kind of pro-bono services that would address those needs.

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