Last year, the Corporation for National and Community Service (the federal agency promoting service and volunteerism for which I have been a trainer/consultant for 14 years) and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation launched an exciting new initiative, A Billion + Change to increase corporate pro bono service in support of nonprofits nationally.

I was in DC this week helping run the State Service Commissioner Institute for governor-appointed representatives from Commissions on National and Community Service that promote service and volunteerism and administer AmeriCorps at the state level.  Shannon Maynard,  Executive Director of the President’s Council, did an update on Pro Bono for the commission executive directors that I was unfortunately unable to attend but I picked up one of the extra brochures on the initiative that she left behind.  I am in the process of trying to set up an interview with Shannon who I have known for years to get more specifics of the initiative so I can share the details with you.

In the meantime, here is a brief overview.  The brochure cover gave a definition of pro bono: “Pro bono service uses the specific skills of professionals to strengthen nonprofits and communities in need.  Latin “for the public good,” pro bono refers to professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment as a public service.”

“Why Pro bono?  Pro bono service is a powerful way for companies to increase their value.  Once the sole purview of law firms, pro bono service combines business strategy and corporate giving to achieve meaningful results for communities.  For decades, businesses have given financial contributions and organized volunteer projects, but the concept of providing and applying corporate expertise and intellectual capital to the world’s biggest challenges is gathering tremendous momentum.”

The brochure goes on to state…”extensive research proves that pro bono:

  • benefits your bottom line
  • attracts investors
  • improves your market share
  • builds your brand
  • expands your ROI on corporate philanthropy
  • enhances your recruitment and improves staff morale.”

In my forthcoming book, Strategic Business Philanthropy, I have a whole section which outlines the myriad ways businesses can engage strategically with nonprofits to maximize impact for both organizations.  Pro bono service is of course one important way that companies can share their expertise and perhaps make a greater difference than they could through checkbook philanthropy alone.

What specialized skills do you have as a company that you could offer to strengthen the capacity of a nonprofit whose work and mission you believe in?