The Corporate Philanthropist: Pro Bono Service
Pro Bono Service: Leveraging Employee Expertise
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America is a great nation because of the compassion and generosity of the American people. And that is reﬂected in the tremendous amount of time and resources that Americans devote to helping others. More than one quarter of all Americans sixteen years and older volunteer. Corporations and organizations are part of this tradition. Aside from being the right thing to do, corporations have found that getting involved in the community contributes to building a positive brand image that comes in handy during strategic times.
Over the years, employers have found that participating in philanthropic efforts can help deﬁne their brand and further solidify their corporate mission. In fact, many employers are discovering that comprehensive strategies for community involvement help build public trust and moral authority. Furthermore, it can be an effective way to differentiate one enterprise from another in an increasingly competitive environment. Commitment to the important work being performed by nonproﬁt groups can also strengthen ties between employers and their local communities, with the added beneﬁt of helping to attract and retain talent. So many young people today are looking not only to do well, but to make a difference. And the opportunity to collaborate with a nonproﬁt organization with the employer’s support can be a deciding factor in the decision to choose and remain with that particular company.
Business and nonproﬁt professionals can learn much from one another while working together. As former president and chief executive ofﬁcer of United Way of America and director of the Peace Corps, I know personally how valuable the private sector can be in contributing talent and resources to nonproﬁt organizations. Business professionals can help to augment the development needs of nonproﬁts with their expertise in ﬁnancial management, marketing, strategic planning, fundraising, and maintaining transparent and accountable systems that cultivate public trust.
Interestingly, by supporting and promoting their employees’ involvement with community organizations, employers ﬁnd that their participation can be very helpful in identifying, developing, and training their most precious asset: human capital. In contributing to a nonproﬁt organization, a company’s employees can develop and hone their soft skills, including communications and leadership skills, interpersonal skills, and consensus-building management, which are so essential to the smooth functioning of any organization.
For all these reasons, pro bono corporate giving is a win-win for everyone: employers, nonproﬁts, and, most of all, our communities and country.