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Skill-Based Volunteerism Helps in Tight Economy

Skill-Based Volunteerism Helps in Tight Economy

Teresa Briggs, office managing partner, Deloitte San Jose, teaches a session to nonprofit participants at the Deloitte Center for Leadership and Community event on IMPACT Day 2009. Photo courtesy of Deloitte

By Morgan Davis/The Western Addition

January 06, 2010

As many in the non-profit community prepare resolutions and goals for the New Year, some are considering the challenges they will face as the corporations they depend on for financial support continue to restructure and reassess their giving.

Deloitte LLC – a global firm that serves clients in a variety of areas, include accounting, assurance and advisory, risk, tax, management, financial, technology and human capital consulting – is one firm that tackles the challenge of providing a better business model for corporate giving. Through diversity initiatives, community involvement and educational investments via the Deloitte Foundation, the company takes the popular phrase “corporate responsibility” seriously.

The most highly visible contribution is on Impact Day, Deloitte’s national day of service. Last year marked its 10th year and on June 5, more than 32,000 Deloitte personnel across the country set aside their work to volunteer on 800 projects in 252 communities.

“Deloitte’s commitment to the community is year round, in good times and bad,” said Juliana Deans, leader of Community Involvement for the Northern Pacific region. “Our 2,500 Bay Area employees actively engage in skills-based volunteering, pro bono work and traditional fundraising throughout the year.”

Acknowledging that creative solutions are necessary for the challenging and changing world, Deloitte urges nonprofits to reconsider the role of large corporate support. The solution? Skills-based volunteerism.

Deloitte promotes skills-based volunteering as a powerful driver of social impact and business value, creating a win-win situation for a community. Deloitte recently set a large goal of it’s own: to invest up to $50 million in outcomes-focused pro bono engagements, providing in-kind professional services to gible nonprofits. It hopes to help organizations that face business and operational challenges, in order to increase their efficiency affecting social change and strengthening the nonprofit sector.

Deloitte’s Web site boasts the simplicity of the idea: “Instead of donating money to pay for work, companies can cut out the middle man — through pro-bono engagement and skills-based volunteerism.” If corporate philanthropy is expanded to include workplace talent, a relationship between a business and a nonprofit can become more valuable and create a greater impact.

One way that Deloitte gives back to the San Francisco community is through its extensive relationship with the Taproot Foundation, which is the largest non-profit firm in the country, with its national office located in the city.

“Deloitte’s national director of community involvement, Evan Hochberg, is on the national board of Taproot Foundation and we partner with Taproot Foundation on external speaking engagements related to skill-based volunteering and pro bono,” Deans said of the relationship. “Deloitte is also providing Taproot Foundation with pro bono services as it seeks to enhance the pro bono related thought leadership and training modules offered to its members through its Pro Bono Action Tank.”

Through research Deloitte and the Taproot Foundation executed, Deloitte found supporting evidence that skills-based volunteerism will provide excellent relief as nonprofits find it harder to secure corporate donations. Its research showed that 56 percent of nonprofits feel monetary donations are the most valuable contributions a company can make. But, only 1 percent of nonprofit operating budgets come from corporate money.

The Taproot Foundation shows that at least six million professionals in corporate America are available to volunteer. Deloitte literature shows how if those volunteers provide one hour of hands-on volunteering, the value to non-profits would be $108 million, based on the Independent Sector’s advised rate of $19.51 an hour; and if those same volunteers applied their professional skills and resources to help nonprofits – valued at an average consulting rate of $200 an hour – the value to the nation’s charities would be closer to $1 billion.

And how does skills-based volunteerism apply to the other outcome of the troubled economy – a talented, but unemployed population, with fierce competition for employment? Deans offers her insight for professionals seeking answers to this question.

“According to the 2008 Volunteer IMPACT Survey, 91 percent of Fortune 500 human resource managers said volunteering knowledge and expertise to a nonprofit can be an effective way to cultivate critical business skills,” she said. “In tough economic times, non-profit organizations find it even more difficult to address their strategic, operational and financial challenges. So, in these challenging times, highly skilled professionals are actually presented with a unique opportunity to both build their resume and also to apply highly valuable professional skills to nonprofits.

“If you are a potential volunteer interested in skills-based or pro bono work, you should first assess your areas of professional talent and make a short list of nonprofits where that talent could be applied. Then, contact the volunteer manager to express your interest in contributing business skills and initiative a conversation about the nonprofit’s needs. At that point, identify a specific project that you have the talent to complete. Finally, outline a plan, even if it’s a brief note, and send it to the nonprofit for their consideration.”

Local nonprofits can benefit from this talent, by participating in an upcoming Deloitte Center for Leadership & Community event.

“A number of metrics are evaluated to consider a group for participation, including an existing relationship with Deloitte, experience in working with large group of volunteers for a single day of work (50 people minimum); offering an opportunity for skills based volunteering or a blend of traditional and skills based volunteering activities for the day; proximity to a Deloitte office or major public transportation; offering activities that fit within the Deloitte skill-set; and have relationships to education, economic self-sufficiency or nonprofit capacity building,” Deans said.

All of Deloitte’s pro bono work pays off. By offering programs that allow flexibility within the work force and opportunities for volunteering, the company has gained national recognition. It was ranked No. 61 in Fortune’s100 Best Places to Work and No. 2 for Best Places to Launch a Career by BusinessWeek. In 2008, Working Mother ranked it as a “Best Company for Multicultural Women” for the sixth consecutive year and placed Deloitte on the magazine’s “100 Best Companies” list for the 15th consecutive year.

To learn more about skills-based volunteerism, visit Deloitte’s Web site at It also delivers insight on industry developments and resources for students, professionals and job hunters, with career advice and guides for corporations and nonprofits, including Webcasts, podcasts and free seminars on a variety of subject matters.

To participate in a Deloitte Center for Leadership & Community event, member United Way Bay Area agencies can visit Other organizations can visit the

To learn more about the Taproot Foundation, visit Courtesy of ©2009 Yellowbrix, Inc.