Just the other day, I was visiting with an entrepreneur regarding the growth in the exchange economy. Hearing the phrase, my initial mental image was of my great-great grandfather somewhere in East Texas trading chickens for feed, way back in the 1860s.
I’m not saying that I can’t imagine exchanging services or products without the utilization of cash. But having a little bit of green in my pocket does provide a better sense of security. Maybe it’s just me…
Not long after the discussion, I was invited to attend a luncheon meeting hosted by Dallas Social Venture Partners (DSVP). Their mantra is “Doing Good Better.” Membership is offered to those in the business community who invest in DSVP; DSVP then offers social venture grants to nonprofits.
In the world of corporate citizenship, this is still an act of businesses giving cash to charities. So where does the exchange economy fit it?
It just so happened that the keynote speaker was Aaron Hurst of the Taproot Foundation and author of “Powered by Pro Bono.”
His concept of matching pro bono services to nonprofits is garnering attention. Aaron will tell you that more than $15 billion in pro bono services is donated to nonprofits ever year – four times as much as all corporate grantmaking in the same timeframe.
Businesses in our community already give back to local nonprofits through board and volunteer service by their employees. What’s changing is how Aaron has developed an evolving concept for involving business expertise to improving a non-profit’s capacity which in turn benefits business.
Aaron is a New Yorker by upbringing. He’s a self -proclaimed vegetarian so he’s not interested in exchanging a chicken for some feed. What he is interested in is exchanging value for companies with value for charities.
As Aaron sees it, “The movement is fundamentally to have professionals recognize the honor and privilege to be able to work in their field, realizing that many can’t afford their services and changing what it means to be a professional to include doing good work, pro-bono work, which is the literal translation.”
Skills-based volunteering provides for an alignment between employee interests, community needs and company programs which can yield more benefits than traditional volunteering. Employees may gain better leadership training, job skill development and networking skills.
According to a study by True Impact, skills-based volunteers are 142% more likely to report job-related skills-gains than traditional volunteers, 47% more likely to report high satisfaction from volunteering than traditional volunteers, and 82% more likely to report that volunteerism generated new recruits for their company versus traditional volunteers.
The exchange value is that pro bono skills-based volunteering can be as much as 500% more valuable for nonprofits.
So what types of engagements can businesses provide for nonprofits? In 2011, the top areas of ProBono use by Nonprofits (in order) include legal counsel, marketing, human resources, financial and administrative support, financial advisory or consulting, information technology, organizational design or coaching and board member or executive search.
Look around your office. Do you have one or more employees with expertise in these areas?
The time-frame can vary from a short 24-hour project to a year-long engagement. This is all agreed upon in the agreement upfront.
Pick the expertise you can share, the amount of time you have to provide, and have your employees make the offer to their favorite charity.
The pro bono movement is a win-win for everyone involved. Wearing overalls, chewing wheat straw, and owning a hen is not required. One last thought, don’t be chicken to offer your organization and provide some extra “feed” to your employees and to our community.
Kristina Jones is the President of Stronger Organizations, LLC and works with companies and nonprofits on their community engagement strategies. Continue the dialogue, connect with her at Facebook.com/StrongerOrganizations.