From Partnership to Impact: Forging, Convening, and Funding Cross-Sector Collaborations [Upcoming Webinar]

Photo of man in suit explaining something.For decades, individuals and organizations have been trying to solve our greatest challenges through siloed solutions. More recently, we have seen significant growth in the use and diversity of models of cross-sector collaboration, in part, because as Albert Einstein recognized, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”

Some of these efforts are able to create meaningful collaborations and drive measurable impact, while others end up doing more co-blab-orating than collaborating.

So what differentiates high-impact collaborations, and what roles can volunteers play in supporting their success? 

Through independent research and observation, the Presidio Institute has identified cross-sector leadership skills that effective collaborations use in their practice. Because cross-sector collaborations operate outside of traditional methods of authority and accountability, a key component of this work is building teams.

Join us on Wednesday December 9, 2015 at 11 am PT (2 pm ET) as David Styers, Manager of Program & Business Development, Presidio Institute and Jennifer Bennett, Senior Manager of Education & Training at VolunteerMatch explore the importance of developing trust, managing power dynamics and conflict, and fostering an innovative culture to successfully build alliances to solve problems and achieve shared goals.

Register today (it’s free!)

How to Help Nonprofits Say “Yes” to Your Pro Bono Volunteers

Guest post by Linda B. Gornitsky, President, LBG Associates.

LBG-Pro_Bono_Cover_SmallSometimes when a corporation offers its nonprofit partners pro bono volunteers, they are met with a less-than-enthusiastic response. Sometimes they are even turned down. That’s because engaging pro bono volunteers requires a lot of time and effort on the part of the nonprofit.

LBG Associates, a corporate citizenship consultancy, observed that while the supply of pro bono volunteers has been increasing, the demand for their services has lagged behind. And without the demand to meet the supply, the promise of pro bono cannot be fulfilled.

This is why LBG Associates, in conjunction with LBG Research Institute, surveyed more than 1,400 global nonprofits about the challenges they face when they accept pro bono help and the solutions they have found to those challenges. The results informed its latest research report, “Balancing Pro Bono Supply and Demand: Challenges and Solutions from the Nonprofit Point of View.”

Top Challenges and How Corporations Can Help

Not surprisingly, time and money are the top challenges. But it turns out that some of the solutions to those challenges can be delivered by the corporation sending volunteers. The nonprofits themselves said that the following suggestions would make pro bono projects go more smoothly:

  • Offer help on a small, discrete project first. While it is tempting to go all out and want to provide strategic planning help, thinking small at first will help both sides get started as partners in pro bono engagements.
  • Screen potential volunteers for affinity to the nonprofit mission. Nonprofits reported that the best pro bono volunteers are those who believe in the mission of the organization as much as they do.
  • Allow the volunteer to work on the project during the workday. Not only does this send a message to the volunteer and the nonprofit that you support this work, it also helps keep the project on track. If the volunteer feels free to meet with the nonprofit during the day, for example, it prevents the already over-worked nonprofit staff from having to meet with the volunteer at night or on weekends.
  • Include an implementation grant with the pro bono project. Depending on the project, it may make sense to include an implementation grant to ensure that the work done on both sides shows a positive return. The volunteers can stay on through the implementation phase, too, to help see their recommendations come to fruition.

Is Pro Bono Worth the Time and Trouble?

Even with its challenges, the nonprofits reported that pro bono is well worth the time and trouble. Satisfaction rates were high, as were the intention to pursue another pro bono project:

  • 95% of nonprofits surveyed strongly agreed, agreed or somewhat agreed that their target issue was addressed
  • 82% of projects undertaken by the respondents in the past three years were completed and the deliverable implemented
  • 97% said the deliverable was at least somewhat useful; more than half said it was very useful or extremely useful
  • 75% said the end product was a good return on their investment of time and resources
  • Nearly 84% were at least somewhat satisfied with the overall pro bono experience
  • 90% would engage in another pro bono project in the future

These results bode well for the growth of pro bono. Couple the current success rates with sensitivity to the challenges pro bono presents to nonprofits and demand should start to meet supply. With the challenges in mind, corporations that have a pro bono program can have a heart-to-heart with the nonprofit partner about what will make these projects easier for them. Understanding the particular challenges of each partner and working with them to solve them is step one in building a long-term, successful pro bono partnership.

The report, “Balancing Pro Bono Supply and Demand: Challenges and Solutions from the Nonprofit Point of View,” is available free of charge. Download the report.

About the author: Linda B. Gornitsky is president of LBG Associates, a noted corporate citizenship consultancy based in Stamford, CT. Linda can be reached at or 203-325-3154.

Art work: Report Cover

What Does Volunteering Have to Do with #GivingTuesday?

Join VolunteerMatch and #GivingTuesday for a twitter chat about #GivingTime#GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back, will take place on Tuesday, December 1, 2015.

And on Tuesday November 24, 2015, we’ll take to Twitter to talk about how volunteering can be a powerful part of #GivingTuesday plans. And we want you to join in the conversation!

Who Should Participate?

Companies, nonprofits and individuals who want to make a difference on and around #GivingTuesday, and are interested in how volunteering can fit into, and enhance, that vision.

How to Join

Prepare for the chat by reading the questions below. These questions will be asked of the folks at #GivingTuesday, VolunteerMatch, and many others (including you!)

Then, log onto Twitter on November 24th at 12 pm PST/ 3 pm EST. Follow the hashtag #GivingTime. You’ll answer Q1 with A1, and Q2 with A2. Remember to always include the hashtag #GivingTime. Feel free to talk to others in the chat, ask questions, be thoughtful, and be social.


  • #GivingTuesday is right around the corner. How will you give time on 12/1? #givingtime
  • Why is volunteering an important part of #GivingTuesday? #givingtime
  • What inspires you to volunteer? #GivingTuesday #givingtime
  • What’s a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered? #givingtime
  • How are companies celebrating #GivingTuesday with volunteerism? #givingtime
  • How are nonprofits incorporating volunteerism into their #GivingTuesday plans? #givingtime
  • What tools or resources are available to help people find volunteer opportunities for #GivingTuesday? #givingtime
  • How can volunteers make a big difference by #givingtime on #GivingTuesday?

You’ll meet new people (virtually), learn a lot about both volunteerism and #GivingTuesday, and most importantly, have FUN! Our aim is to leave you feeling refreshed and inspired about what you and your company is capable of this #GivingTuesday.

CSR Food For Thought: Partnerships for #GivingTuesday and Beyond

The CSR Food for Thought series is a roundup of recent news from around the web, presented to you in one bite-sized post.

CSR Food for ThoughtDon’t Forget Corporate Giving on #GivingTuesday
From Double the Donation:
While framed for a nonprofit audience, this article has some great ideas on how companies can engage their employees on #GivingTuesday (December 1, 2015).

How does corporate volunteering fit with #GivingTuesday? Find out in our Twitter chat on Tuesday November 24th at 12 p.m. PST. More details to come!

Is a Higher Salary the Only Way Your Business Can Boost Staff Loyalty?
From The Guardian:
“Volunteers might feel more upbeat about going to work for their bosses on a Monday morning, but is that really enough to stop them picking up the phone to the recruitment consultant?” The answer is yes, but it’s not as clear-cut as you might think.

Cross-Sector Collaboration Starts with a Meaningful Foundation of Partnership
From New Global Citizen:
In this article, Deirdre White of PYXERA Global helps us move past antiquated ideas of corporate/ nonprofit partnerships and explains how to create a strong base on which to build amazing collaboration.

Interested in cross-sector collaboration? It’s not too late to register for the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit, where companies and nonprofits will come together. Learn more.

The Top 5 CSR, Sustainability and Employee Engagement Reports of 2015 – And Why They’re Important
From Triple Pundit:
When compiling the most important reports of 2015 – Triple Pundit goes beyond statistics. Check out this list for innovative ideas and reflections of a changing corporate landscape.

I hope you enjoyed this roundup! Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week @VM_Solutions.

Limited-Time Discount for the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit!

Come Together at the 2015 VolunteerMatch SummitOn November 1, 2015, registration rates for the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit went up. However, we don’t want price to deter you from attending this one-of-a-kind event.

That’s why, for all of this week (11/9/15 – 11/15/15), we’re offering a special 20% off discount on registration rates. Simply enter the promo code VMSummit20 on the registration page.

Why attend the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit?

At the Summit, you’ll have the opportunity to come together with corporate social responsibility and employee engagement professionals, as well as national nonprofits.

You’ll participate in interactive workshops, attend networking sessions, and hear from industry experts, all related to working across sectors to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

That’s not all. Check out these 9 reasons to attend the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit.

Who should attend the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit?

IMG_2248If you manage your company’s employee volunteer program, this Summit is for you. If you’re a CSR professional looking for better ways to work with nonprofits, this Summit is for you. If you’re with a national nonprofit and are looking for better ways to work with corporate partners, this Summit is also for you.

And if you’re looking for a place to network and learn from others doing similar work with employee volunteerism, this Summit is for you.

Don’t miss out! Register this week with promo code VMSummit20.

See you there!

Top Things to Do in Oakland (Besides the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit)

Who’s joining us in Oakland, CA for the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit?

If you yelled out a resounding “I am!”, then this post is for you. (And if you’re still considering it, it’s not too late to register.)

Lake Merritt

View of Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA. Photo credit: Brad Greenlee









Oakland, while often lumped together with San Francisco due to proximity, is a major city on its own. In fact, it’s the 8th largest city in the vast state of California.

Our Bay Area-headquartered VolunteerMatch office is packed with staff from Oakland. And here’s what us locals have to say about what you should do with your free time before, after, or between 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit activities:

  1. Catch Some Sun

Unlike its foggy neighbor to the west, Oakland is reliably sunny. And if you’re coming from winter climates, you’ll have nothing to complain about. The typical climate in Oakland in December? 60s and sunny.

  1. Walk Around Lake Merritt

While you’re enjoying the sun, why not take a stroll around this 155 acre beauty of a lake? The 3.4 mile shoreline, always bustling with people, events and even birds, serves as an urban oasis. Don’t believe me? Check out these photos.

Want to get on the water? You can also take a ride in a Venetian-style gondola.

  1. Catch a Movie at Grand Lake Theater

After a full day of collaborating with and learning from other corporate volunteering enthusiasts, spend your down time taking in a movie at this gorgeous, historic theater. Trust me, you’ve never seen a movie theater quite like this before.

  1. Redwood Trees

    Redwoods can grow up to 360 feet tall!

    Hike the Trails at Redwood Regional Park

With a few minor exceptions, redwoods are unique to Northern California. And they’re breathtaking. If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll want to set aside some time to hike the hills of Redwood Regional Park, a secluded redwood grove found just a few miles from Oakland’s downtown.

  1. Wine Tasting in Jack London Square

Jack London Square, with its waterfront location, is packed with restaurants, bars and culture. My favorite part? The urban wine trail. You can leisurely wander around Jack London Square and neighboring Oakland locations, while periodically stopping into your choice of 11 wineries.

Have more time? Take a scenic ferry ride across the Bay to San Francisco.

  1. Make Some Feline Friends at Cat Town Café
Cat napping at Cat Town Cafe

Cat napping at Cat Town Cafe.

Oakland is the proud home to the nation’s first cat café.

What is a cat café, you ask? Imagine a coffee shop where instead of simply enjoying your latte and scone, you also get to hang out with adorable, and adoptable, kitties. Reservations recommended.

  1. Shop Around!

Oakland is full of fun shopping. We’ve picked a few of our favorite places, all within walking distance of the Summit:

Maple Street Denim: A mere 2 minute walk from Oakland Marriott City Center – where the Summit will be held, you’ll find this unique, local clothing store that touts the slogan, “Quality Clothing for Quality People.”

Marion and Rose’s Workshop: Right next door to Maple Street Denim, this fresh shop sells local and American-made home décor items, jewelry and more.

Oaklandish: It’s more than a clothing store. It’s a cultural movement. Started as an art project to build local pride, it’s now a certified B corp and iconic in the region.

  1. Last but not least, my personal favorite pastime, EATING:

The VolunteerMatch staff compiled our personal list of favorite restaurants within about a mile of the Summit. * indicates that it’s within 4 blocks of the Summit. (Descriptions are courtesy of Google.)

Souley Vegan: Warm corner eatery preparing vegan versions of Louisiana-style soul food, plus cocktails & desserts.

Chop Bar: Rustic-chic gastropub offering all-day American comfort fare & cocktails, plus beer & wine on tap.

Mua: Renovated, industrial warehouse offering eclectic small plates, cocktails & songs spun by a DJ.

DESCO*: Vintage-style bistro in a historic space serves Italian food with a focus on seasonal ingredients.

Tamarindo Antojeria*: Trendy upscale Mexican restaurant boasts gourmet tapas & margaritas in a modern, airy interior.

Encuentro: Farm-fresh vegetarian tapas, cheese plates & wine served in a modern neighborhood bistro.

Longitude: The classic tiki bar gets an upgrade with this bar & lounge offering cocktails, snacks & entrees.

Lake Chalet: Basic seafood, cocktails & Lake Merritt views are found at this renovated boathouse with a patio.

Shan Dong*: Buzzing eatery featuring traditional Chinese staples in a bright, straight-up setting.


For those joining us next month at the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit, I hope this post has added to your excitement! And for others, it’s not too late to register and plan your trip. Learn more.

CSR Food For Thought: The Companies Shaping CSR

The CSR Food for Thought series is a roundup of recent news from around the web, presented to you in one bite-sized post.

CSR Food for Thought5 Companies Engaging Their Employees around Sustainability
From TriplePundit:
How do these companies do it? Combine training with transparency, and you’re well on your way.

Growth in Pro Bono Services: Deeper Investments into the Nonprofit Sector
From CECP:
What are the latest trends in pro bono? Which companies are doing it well? And is it really different than skilled volunteering? CECP has the answers.

Want more on pro bono? Check out these 6 quotes to inspire your employee volunteer program.

REI Skips Black Friday and Opts Outside
From Cone Communications:
Will closing all its locations and giving employees a paid day off on one of its busiest days harm or help REI’s bottom line? Only time will tell…

Volunteerism: Enhancing our Corporate Culture
From 3BL Media:
What does Time Warner Cable Chairman and CEO Rob Marcus have to say about their recent volunteer Day of Service for senior management? “It was my best day at Time Warner Cable.” Wow!

Want to know more about Time Warner Cable’s employee volunteer program? Check out this recap of our recent Twitter chat.

I hope you enjoyed this roundup! Follow us on Twitter for CSR news and trends throughout the week @VM_Solutions.