Skills based and pro bono volunteering take volunteering to the next level! These specific types of volunteering provide great resources to nonprofit organizations and can enhance organizational sustainability in ways that may not have been previously utilized. These types of volunteer efforts often give nonprofits the resources that they cannot financially afford, but that they need to be successful and sustainable.
As per Wikipedia, Skills-based volunteering “is leveraging the specialized skills and talents of individuals to strengthen the infrastructure of nonprofits, helping them build and sustain their capacity to successfully achieve their missions. This is in contrast to traditional volunteering, where specific training is not required”. Pro bono volunteering, as per Wikipedia, “is professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment or at a reduced fee as a public service“. So, by these definitions:
- Skills based volunteering is when an individual shares their specialized skills and talents to a nonprofit as a volunteer.
- Pro bono volunteering is when an individual shares their professional expertise to a nonprofit as a volunteer.
There is not a huge difference in the above definitions. They both define volunteer efforts where a person’s specialized skills/training/talents are given to a nonprofit organization without financial compensation. Taproot Foundation has created and provides the below visual to help outline the “full spectrum of community investment strategies that companies deploy”:
As per the above grid, volunteers to nonprofit organizations can fall into 4 categories. In italics, I have added a title to each category:
- General Volunteer– Hands on (with clients) volunteers that do not need specific or specialized skills to complete volunteer tasks.
- Skills based Volunteer– Hands on (with clients) and specialized volunteers that have a skills-based skill or talent to complete volunteer tasks.
- Board-Based Volunteer– Governance (board service) volunteers that have a skills-based skill or talent to assist with board responsibilities to help govern the nonprofit organization.
- Pro Bono Volunteer– Specialized volunteers that require professional expertise in a particular field and/or occupation to complete volunteer tasks, programs and/or projects towards organizational capacity building.
There is great value in skills based and pro bono volunteering. As per the Taproot Foundation, “Some of the strongest nonprofits in the country use pro bono to supplement up to 20% of their budgets”. Having said this, I do not want to overshadow the amazing work that general volunteers do for nonprofit organizations around the world. Many nonprofits would not exist if not for the general volunteers that they utilize. Many nonprofits are 100% volunteer run! All types of volunteers are a critical part of nonprofit organizations. I revere and applaud them all!
Photo credit to: Microsoft Office Clip Art