Skills-based volunteering

Skills-based Volunteering


Today Skills-Based Volunteering (SBV) is the new way of doing volunteering. In five years from now SBV and Pro Bono volunteering services will be so natural that the expression will not need to be defined anymore. Using personal talents or professional competences will be a usual way for volunteers to help nonprofit organizations in their internal organization – pro bono, business-oriented consulting services for free – or in the delivery of their services while developing new talents or leadership skills.

  • Nonprofit organizations and corporations, HandsOn Network can help you!
  • Volunteers – individuals or employee – you can help HandsOn Network supporting its myriad of nonprofit organizations…

From a baby boomer delivering free logistic consulting services to a food bank organization to the millennial teaching how to use multimedia for a better awareness of a fund raising event or to an architect helping re designing  library in schools, skills-based volunteering is a strategic type of volunteerism that exponentially expands the impact of nonprofits by incorporating a whole range of skills that strengthen the operations and services of nonprofit organizations.

Connecting the volunteer with the right skills to the right project at the right time will allow getting a greater impact and building stronger relationships between volunteers and the nonprofit sector. Therefore it means increasing the volunteer interest to do on going projects for the already known organization. And why not to imagine that  a Corporation can ‘adopt’ a nonprofit entity to help it on a long run, as one of our HandsOn Action Centers, HandsOn Suburban Chicago, is proposing today to their local businesses.


What is Skills-Based Volunteering (SBV)?

Skills-based volunteering (SBV) is an innovative approach that is rapidly gaining recognition as a powerful driver of both social impact and business value.  Skills-based volunteerism utilizes the skills, experience, talents and education of volunteers and matches them with the needs of nonprofits.  By leveraging all types of knowledge and expertise, SBV helps build and sustain nonprofits’ capacity to achieve their missions successfully.  Individual skilled volunteers may offer their particular expertise to a nonprofit agency, while corporate SBV involves employee volunteers working on projects for a nonprofit organization through a structured program developed and managed by their employer.  Case-studies we have developed can illustrate the various forms of skills-based volunteerism.

Pro Bono

Many people are already familiar with the term pro bono, and understand that it has to do with “doing work for free.”  In the context of skills-based volunteering, however, pro bono is a subset of SBV. In the pro bono model, volunteers contribute their expertise directly to a nonprofit’s internal operations, strengthening the infrastructure and capacity of the organization.  This type of project utilizes core competencies that all businesses need – whether in the private or nonprofit sector – to be efficient and effective.

Pro bono services are an important type of SBV that provides a nonprofit with skills and expertise critical to maintaining a productive organization. 


Why Implement Skills-based Volunteering Initiatives?

SBV is a strategic type of volunteerism that exponentially expands the impact of nonprofits by incorporating a whole range of skills that strengthen the operations and services of nonprofit organizations.  

Volunteers can choose to use their personal or professional talents, work individually or in teams and take on long or short term projects.  They can volunteer for local, national or international organizations, and assist with planned projects or respond to immediate critical needs, such as disaster response.  For companies, skills-based volunteering offers a way to expand corporate philanthropy to include the highly valued commodity of workplace talent, which can reap considerable value – and do much good – for nonprofits and communities in need.  For individuals, skills-based volunteering provides the opportunity to use their expertise to make a measurable impact on issues they care about.  SBV focuses on the value of a volunteer’s time by ensuring that it is used to create real results.

How to Do SBV

Because of its large network of volunteer centers across the nation and of its SBV expertise developed through various corporate projects, HandsOn Network today can help the creation of national or local SBV initiatives in building the knowledge both of the business and the nonprofit organizations who are involved in it. Thanks to Corporate or Individual Volunteer Leaders playing an active role in various stages of the project such as the readiness assessment of the nonprofit, the fist steps of implementation or the management of projects or volunteers, a local first site will be a pilot one before a potential national deployment.  For more information about the HandsOn network corporate offerings please contact Veronica Parages.

Ensuring SBV Success

The impact of a skills-based program on the work of a nonprofit depends closely on effective implementation.  Both nonprofits and companies can take steps to ensure the high quality of pro bono volunteer programs. As a first step, you can use the free Skills-Based Service Engagement Tool, developed by Points of Light and the Taproot Foundation, to determine whether your nonprofit is prepared to engage skills-based volunteers.

HandsOn Action Centers

Action Centers across the country can help facilitate SBV projects by working with local nonprofit partners on a readiness assessment – often assisted by a SBV Facilitator or anAmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer acting as a consultant –who identifies the elements the organizations need to put in place to effectively prepare for and implement SBV.  The Centers’ staff can also provide an SBV Volunteer Leader to help define projects and manage volunteers, as well as to ensure the completion, evaluation and recognition of the results of each project.

Funders may refer nonprofits to intermediary organizations or volunteer centers for consultation, assessment or services, and take advantage of the insights and knowledge that intermediary organizations can provide regarding community needs and priorities.

Useful Links & Resources

Online Resources

  • The Skills-Based Service Engagement Tool, developed by Points of Light and the Taproot Foundation, can help your nonprofit determine how prepared it is to engage skills-based volunteers.
  • The Readiness Roadmap takes nonprofit leaders through a multi-stage assessment designed to help them determine if pro bono services meet their immediate needs and the best way to engage skilled volunteers.
  • The Nonprofit Readiness Toolkit for Pro bono Volunteering is a Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) online a self-assessment resource for nonprofits.
  • Skills-Based Volunteering: A New Generation of Service offers a complete overview of SBV.
  • The Skills-Based Volunteering page on the CNCS website provides links to more information on SBV and its benefits for nonprofits, companies and volunteers.
  • Service Leader Course 101: Introduction to Service Leadership (0.5 hr) This course provides the foundational knowledge of service leadership. It will define the role of a service leader, the benefits of being a service leader, and the importance of service leaders in meeting pressing community needs.

SBV Case Studies

SBV Reports and Surveys

Deloitte 2007 Volunteer IMPACT Survey  
It's Time to Focus on Volunteer's Results
The Promise Employee Skill-Based Volunteering Holds for Employee Skills and Nonprofit Partner Effectiveness
Deloitte 2008 Volunteer IMPACT Survey  
Reimagining Service, Full Report  
Deloitte 2009 Volunteer IMPACT Survey  
The New Volunteer Workforce  


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