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Companies Lean on Professional Staff to Support Communities Worldwide

By Michael Stroik, Manager, Research and Analytics CECP

October 21, 2013–Why pro bono? Nonprofit organizations all over the world receive free access to professional services that typically cost thousands of dollars. Corporate employees use their skills to help causes they care about. Businesses create volunteer experiences that can influence the retention and recruitment of high-performing employees and job candidates. CECP, recently released its annual report on corporate societal investments, Giving in Numbers: 2013 Edition, which found that for 2012, among all survey respondents, 36 companies reported a median value of $340,750 worth of pro bono support during the year.

Despite a slow economic recovery, the majority of companies gave more overall in 2012 than in 2007, the year before the start of the global recession. Throughout the recession, companies increasingly sought to use their non-cash resources, such as product or professional volunteer services, to support community partners in new ways.

Many companies began offering new pro bono service programs to engage their professional staff in corporate giving programs. The percentage of companies offering either a domestic or international pro bono program grew from 32% in 2008 (the first year in which pro bono program offerings were tracked) to 50% of companies in 2012.

Pro bono programs require close supervision and a significant commitment from corporate professionals. So why are companies offering more pro bono service programs as part of their overall philanthropic contribution? The benefits from these programs are tremendous and produce a unique return on investment for each party involved.

While business benefits are often overlooked, CECP believes companies can benefit just as much as community partners in pro bono programs. The effect on employees and businesses are often measured in unique ways. A recent study by UnitedHealth Group shows that the majority of employees who volunteer have lower stress levels and a greater sense of purpose in their life. All this translates to happier employees with more to offer in the workplace! In addition, according to A Billion + Change and Deloitte’s 2008 Volunteer Impact Survey, 91% of Fortune 500 human resources managers said volunteering knowledge and expertise to a nonprofit can be an effective way to cultivate critical business and leadership skills.

The efforts of organizations such as Taproot Foundation and Points of Light have energized corporations to expand service opportunities for all employees. As companies build systems to track and measure the effect of their pro bono support, CECP expects even more focus on pro bono service in the future. Nonprofit organizations should begin exploring new grant models that include both financial and service support.

Does your company offer pro bono service opportunities? If not, join the movement by taking the A Billion + Change Pledge and committing the skills of your employees to the support of nonprofit capacity-building across the globe. Pro bono programs are a great way to connect high-performing employees with your grantmaking work in a truly impactful way. Please download Giving in Numbers: 2013 Edition for more information on pro bono and for a review of all trends in corporate philanthropy. Please let us know if you have any feedback!