Skills Based Volunteerism
Volunteerism takes many forms — all of which are valuable to non-profit organizations and the communities they serve. Through “skills based volunteerism,” volunteers share their professional skills with non-profit organizations, often providing services the organizations need but cannot afford. Non-profit organizations realize significant benefits from these services and the volunteers often find their service is both personally and professionally rewarding.
With over 40,000 non-profit organizations in New Jersey alone, there is an ever-present need for volunteers, including skilled professionals. However, the vast majority of these organizations’ budgets do not allow for hiring of skilled professionals. Volunteerism by professionals helps to fill these gaps, whether on a temporary or ongoing basis.
History and Need
Skills based volunteering began in the 1940s with donated advertising services and public service announcements. It later expanded to lawyers who provide their services free of charge for people in need.
In recent years, skills based volunteerism has grown beyond advertising and lawyering to include a wide variety of professional services. These include, but are not limited to, business, finance, communications, fundraising,
web design, marketing, graphic arts and human resources. Given that pro bono service has been valued at $150 per hour on average, the present and potential value of professionals’ volunteer programs is substantial.
Indeed, throughout the country, professionals donate over $15 billion in pro bono services. This is double all corporate and community foundation giving, combined.
While the movement toward skills-based volunteerism is growing, there remains a significant need for additional volunteerism. Recent studies suggest substantial needs in the following areas:
- Human Resources
- Social Media
- Financial and Administrative Support
- Financial Advisory or Consulting Services
- Information Technology
- Organizational Design or Coaching
- Board Membership or Executive Search
Benefits to Volunteers and Their Employers
In addition to benefitting non-profits and the communities they serve, professional skills volunteerism can provide a direct benefit to the volunteers themselves. Volunteerism strengthens credentials, skills and connections, thus enhancing opportunities. A vast majority of human resource executives recommend such volunteerism for job applicants and note that it substantially aids in skills development.
It has also been documented that volunteerism by employees produces a corresponding benefit for their employers, including but not limited to increased employee morale and productivity; low-cost leadership development; and enhanced relationships with the community.
How to Get Involved
Volunteers can work directly with non-profits on specific projects; help them establish strategic plans and methods for achieving long term goals; or serve as consultants on an ongoing basis. They may
reach out to organizations to inquire about their needs and work with them to devise solutions. Other resources exist as well:
- New Jersey Governor’s Office of Volunteerism, operates a website dedicated to connecting volunteers from throughout
the state with non-profit organizations. Volunteers may specify specific areas of interest and skills they offer; the Office will connect them with appropriate non-profit organizations.
- VolunteerConnect, provides numerous services for both professionals interested in volunteering and non-profits
in New Jersey, including:
- Assistance to non-profits in identifying needs that require professional assistance
- Recruitment of skilled volunteers
- Project management
- Collaboration with businesses to develop volunteer partnerships with non-profits
- Advising non-profits concerning board membership development and recruitment
- Jersey Cares, works with non-profit organizations to identify needs; creates and manages projects; recruits teams of volunteers, including skills-based volunteers; and
provides other volunteer support to non-profit agencies, public schools and other organizations throughout New Jersey.
- Bergen Volunteer Council, a program of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, New Jersey, is comprised of local businesses dedicated to serving the community. The Council identifies
needs and develops programs through which the businesses and their employees can assist, including skills-based volunteering.
- ProBono Partnership, facilitates legal representation of non-profit organizations that do not have funding for legal services. Through ProBono Partnership, attorneys partner
with organizations on matters including but not limited to employment law, intellectual property, development of bylaws, and HIPPA. Attorneys have handled individual cases for these clients, ongoing complex matters, and
other legal counseling services. ProBono Partnership works with New Jersey, New York and Connecticut attorneys and non-profit organizations.
- Taproot, supports and advocates for skills based pro bono service nationally. It strives to establish connections between professionals and non-profit organizations and
encourages businesses to incorporate pro bono service as part of their overall mission. Included among its services is a program to aid businesses and non-profits in designing and developing pro bono service programs.
It also offers guides for use by non-profits to identify needs and potential pro bono solutions and providers.
Please contact the New Jersey Governor’s Office on Volunteerism for additional information. Phone: 609-633-9627 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org