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Over 66 percent of U.S. Nonprofits Identify Pro Bono Service As Top Volunteer Need, But Roadblocks Prevent Effective Implementation

June 21, 2012 at 9:01 AM EDT

Capital One, Common Impact, Points of Light and the Taproot Foundation partner to help nonprofits overcome top challenges to identifying and accessing pro bono services

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun. 21, 2012-- Over 66 percent of U.S. nonprofit organizations need pro bono services more than any other volunteer service, according to a national Pro Bono Readiness Survey released today by a collaborative convened by Capital One Financial Corporation and including Common Impact, Points of Light and the Taproot Foundation. The survey was designed to help identify core challenges and solutions related to pro bono services and skills-based volunteering.

Despite the nonprofit community’s need for pro bono services, the survey also showed that making good use of volunteer services can be challenging. Approximately 73 percent of survey respondents said they would be more likely to seek pro bono support if they could identify specific projects and better understand how volunteer time can be used to improve their infrastructures. For example, nearly half of the nonprofits (48 percent) were not aware that external resources are available to assess capacity building and infrastructure issues – a key step in preparing for an effective pro bono project.

Untapped Opportunities

About 25 percent of nonprofit respondents reported they have never used pro bono services. Of that group, nearly half (47 percent) attributed this to a lack of knowledge about how to access pro bono services. Other reasons included general lack of awareness about pro bono support, insufficient resources to manage a project and uncertainty about whether or not they were ready for pro bono support.

“There are many untapped opportunities for corporations and nonprofits to achieve mutual goals through pro bono services and skills-based volunteering, but – as the survey demonstrates – nonprofits need a better grasp on the kind of volunteerism that will generate long-term benefit to their organizations,” said Selena Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer, Common Impact.

The survey identified several roadblocks to implementing successful pro bono projects, which were the basis to create solutions to encourage more effective pro bono and skills-based volunteerism. Nonprofits’ specific challenges include:

  • Selecting a project that yields outcomes that can be managed long-term –- of the respondents that have used pro bono services, over 85 percent found the support to be helpful, but less than half (46 percent) did not know how to sustain project results without external support.
  • Inability to sustain the results of a project when services involve unique systems or technologies –- barely 40 percent of respondents had the technical infrastructure to support outcomes.
  • Demand for more effective pro bono project management tools and resources –- over 58 percent of respondents needed stronger project planning and time management resources. Thirty-six percent were not familiar with project management tools and another 40 percent claimed to be somewhat familiar.
  • Management bandwidth –- a key issue for nearly 45 percent of nonprofits surveyed.

“For a project to be successful it must be scoped with a strong understanding of the organization’s needs and context,” said Aaron Hurst, Founder and President, Taproot Foundation. “This study helps to give a voice to the nonprofit sector and their critical needs today. It is incredibly encouraging to see the rapid growth of pro bono service in corporate America, but the nonprofit need is truly sobering.”

While corporations will value more strategic use of time and expertise in pro bono and skills-based volunteering, they can maximize their contributions by investing time to learn about the nonprofit partner and make sure the expertise they offer matches the nonprofit’s actual needs. The survey revealed particular demand for pro bono marketing and branding (over 78 percent), technology (70 percent), strategic planning and management (over 51 percent) and human resources and leadership development (over 40 percent).

Readiness Roadmap

"More and more companies like Capital One are not just investing dollars in communities, but they’re investing employees’ time and talent through nonprofit partnerships,” explained Carolyn Berkowitz, President, Capital One Foundation and Vice President, Community Affairs, Capital One. “This larger base of corporate volunteers can help fulfill the nonprofit community’s need for capacity building support –- however nonprofits must be equipped to effectively leverage this support or they risk missing critical opportunities to advance their missions.”

“Based on our combined experience managing effective pro bono and skills-based volunteering projects, the collaborative is developing an online Readiness Roadmap to help nonprofits understand their true needs and what kind of pro bono service is right for their organizations,” said Jackie Norris, Executive Director, Points of Light Corporate Institute. “We’re excited to pilot this interactive online tool at the 2012 National Conference on Volunteering and Service.”

The Readiness Roadmap developed by the collaborative is an online, multi-stage assessment designed to help nonprofits determine if pro bono services meet their immediate needs and the best way to engage skilled volunteers. It was piloted at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Chicago, Illinois and will launch nationwide later this year. The Roadmap addresses:

  • Project readiness assessments
  • Pro bono and skills-based volunteer sourcing
  • Project planning
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation and post-project volunteer recognition.

About the Pro Bono Readiness Survey

LBG Associates, a corporate citizenship consulting firm specializing in strategy development and research, conducted a survey to assess nonprofit readiness for pro bono services with the intent to increase the effectiveness of these initiatives. The survey was conducted between December 2011 and January 2012 and generated approximately 1,348 responses.

About Common Impact

Common Impact is a nonprofit organization that connects skilled professionals from global companies to high-potential local nonprofits. Our employee engagement programs match employee-volunteers with nonprofits that need help overcoming key business challenges. This innovative approach to corporate community service enables companies to realize a positive return on their social investment while building stronger teams and developing employee skills. At the same time, this access to private sector talent enables nonprofits to amplify their impact on the constituents they serve. Ultimately, our work helps foster stronger communities wherever those companies operate. Further information can be found at

About Points of Light

Points of Light is the leading volunteer organization with more than 20 years of history and a bipartisan presidential legacy. Our mission is to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world. We connect people to their power to make a meaningful difference by providing access to tools, resources and opportunities to help volunteers use their time, talent, voice and money to meet the critical needs of our communities. We are organized into three divisions: Programs, Civic Incubator and Action Networks, which include HandsOn Network, the largest network of 250 local volunteer centers across the country and around the world; generationOn, the youth service movement that ignites the power of kids to make their mark on the world; AmeriCorps Alums, the national service alumni network that activates the next generation of service leaders; and Points of Light Corporate Institute, our enterprise that enables companies to engage their employees and customers in service. For more information, visit

About Taproot Foundation

Since its founding in 2001, the Taproot Foundation has been leading the development of a pro bono movement, working to engage the nation’s millions of business professionals in pro bono services both through its own award-winning programs and by partnering with companies to develop and scale corporate pro bono programs. The Taproot Foundation’s mission is to lead, mobilize and engage professionals in pro bono service that drives social change. To learn more visit

About Capital One

Capital One Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. We apply the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. We recognize that helping to build strong and healthy communities - good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families - benefits us all and we are proud to support this and other community initiatives.

Source: Capital One Financial Corporation

Capital One Financial Corporation
Shelley Solheim, 917-589-6203