Author Archives: sosachristiano

Weathering the Storm Survey

As you may know, the Community Resource Center and the Colorado Nonprofit Association published a comprehensive report on the impact of the economy on Colorado’s nonprofits in March 2010, entitled Weathering the Storm. This report was based upon the input of nearly 800 nonprofit professionals from across Colorado.  With nearly a year passing since we administered the original survey that served as the basis for the Weathering the Storm report, the Community Resource Center and the Colorado Nonprofit Association would like to learn about how things have or have not changed for Colorado’s nonprofit community during 2009.
Please consider helping us in gathering this information by distributing information about this survey to your organization’s constituents.  Your participation in distributing this survey is vital in helping us gather data that represents all aspects of Colorado’s nonprofit community.  The survey will take about 15 to complete and you can send out this link to your contacts:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=cENcq6IP2W2UbPeIWz9XUA_3d_3d

Interested in sharing space and resources with other nonprofits?

Tell us more about it and help the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships and its partners find ways to bring City resources to shared space efforts in the nonprofit community.Click here to get to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=OdDnbZs4DpVSuaamN_2fnC6A_3d_3d

Please contact Dace West at dace.west@denvergov.org or 720-944-2839 with any questions.  Thank you for your participation!

Skilled Volunteering: How to Make the Most of Pro-Bono Partnerships

Skilled Volunteering:

How to Make the Most of Pro-Bono Partnerships

By Kristy Judd

Executive Director

Metro Volunteers

A recent study shows that nearly 40 percent of U.S. nonprofits will spend between $50,000 and $250,000 this year on outside consultants.

The dollars are being spent to meet real needs. Yet many nonprofits could spend less if they looked to skilled volunteers for technical assistance. Metro Volunteers recently forged a pro bono partnership with consulting firm Point B, Inc., to launch the first comprehensive Project Leadership Program in the state. Our goal was to equip volunteers to lead teams and projects for local nonprofits.

The results of our partnership offer valuable lessons about how to leverage the contributions of skilled volunteers. Here are some highlights of the experience:

  • Begin with the End in Mind. Before you do anything else or contact prospective volunteers, decide what you need to achieve and what the criteria for success will be. Be as specific as possible, and make sure you consult those with a stake in the outcome (board members, employees, clients, volunteers, etc.).
  • Reach for the Stars. Once you’ve identified your goal, consider who can achieve the results you need. Who has the best skills in that area and the best record of success? We asked Point B to assist with the Project Leadership Program because the firm was nationally known for its project leadership expertise. Companies that donate employee talent want to know their involvement will make a difference and maintain or enhance their reputation. That’s why they often want to contribute in the areas they know best. If you need help identifying stars for your project, call Metro Volunteers for assistance, or tap your network for ideas and introductions.
  • Check Your Communications Fit. Because skilled volunteers perform high-level work (strategic planning, IT implementations, etc.), their projects will have a long-term impact on your agency. Make sure you can communicate and work through issues before “signing them” for your project.
  • Set Clear Expectations. Volunteers, nonprofit agencies and employers alike need to understand the scope of work before making a commitment. You also need to know who’ll be making the final decisions and monitoring the work. Before undertaking the project, Point B met with us to help define the time, skills and resources our project would require and develop shared expectations for how we would work together.
  • Plan to Monitor Quality. Pro bono consultants should check in regularly with their clients, just as paid ones do. Agree beforehand how that process will work. How often will the discussions occur, and what level of detail would you like? If problems arise, how will you get those resolved?
  • Close Out with Thanks. If you defined your goal clearly, then you’ll know when it’s met. Thank your volunteers for their efforts—and recognize them in a way that is meaningful and that acknowledges the expertise they’ve contributed.

Above all, demonstrate the same professionalism in working with skilled volunteers as you do with your funders. After all, these skilled volunteer partnerships could develop into long-term relationships that significantly enhance your organization. That’s happened with Metro Volunteers and Point B, and it can happen for you, too.