Nonprofit organizations could use more pro bono support during this deep recession, but neither charities nor corporations are taking the right steps to encourage more volunteer consulting, a new study has found.
Nearly 40 percent of nonprofit leaders who responded to the survey said they will spend $50,000 or more on outside consultants this year, but nearly a quarter of the respondents have no plans to use skilled volunteers or pro bono support in any capacity in 2009.
The survey was commissioned by Deloitte LLP, a consulting firm, and is based on online interviews with 300 corporate executives and 360 nonprofit executives. The charity leaders had previously applied for pro bono support from the Taproot Foundation, which promotes pro bono service by business professionals.
Aaron Hurst, the Taproot Foundation’s president and founder, said charity leaders typically think of pro bono services in the legal arena, but he noted that charities could save thousands of dollars by seeking skilled volunteers to help in other areas.
The organization’s Pro Bono Action Tank Web site lists 76 types of pro bono projects, including developing a Web site, redesigning facilities, and creating a training program for employees.
“I would encourage nonprofit organizations to look at the money they’re spending on outsourcing, and evaluate whether they could have more of that done on a pro bono basis, which would allow them to direct more of their own capital to their programs,” Mr. Hurst said.
The recession is already prompting charities to look harder for pro bono assistance, he said. Taproot has received 862 applications for pro bono assistance this year — more than it received in all of 2008.
In the survey, 95 percent of charity leaders said they could use more pro bono or skilled volunteer support. But more than a third of their charities currently lack the structural ability to successfully deploy volunteers, the survey found.
Very few charities know how to go about securing pro bono support. Ninety-seven percent of the charity leaders said they did not know who to approach in a company to solicit skilled volunteers.
Likewise, 95 percent of the leaders said they were unsure of which companies would likely respond to their appeals for pro bono support. Only 50 percent of the corporate leaders who responded said their companies provide any pro bono support to charities.
The survey’s findings suggest that charities and corporations may not have enough employee expertise to make pro bono connections.
Nearly a quarter of the charity leaders say have no one in charge of volunteer management, and another 23 percent of respondents say the person in charge of volunteer management has less than three years of work experience.
Among corporations, more than one in four leaders say they have no one to oversee employee volunteerism. Moreover, 17 percent of corporations have no employee volunteer program at all.