Investing in Nonprofits Through People

Skills-based Volunteering

By Daryl Brewster, CEO, CECP

Think about all the diverse industries across the globe delivering specialized services and products to customers, whether they are other businesses (B2B) or individuals (B2C). From food to fashion to financial services, companies are contributing something to meet the needs of millions of these consumers. They apply innovations and unique skills and resources to solve challenges and address opportunities. At the heart of these skills and resources are the companies’ employees, who bring their individual talents and creativity to bear each day on the things they develop.

Now imagine if companies were uniformly encouraging employees to apply those skills to solve community needs as well. Leading companies are looking at engaging with community programs not as charity, but as an investment in society where they leverage their skills and resources— employees, intellectual property, cash—to make a difference, and even create new markets. The next Top Action of an Engaged CEO that I’ll address in this column is “Commit your company’s unique skills and resources.”

The employee thread of the company skills and resources conversation is perhaps the most dynamic, as employee engagement comes in many shapes and sizes. There are both “extra hands” and skills-based opportunities. The CECP team recently spent a day offering some extra hands to the St. Bernard Project (SBP)/Friends of the Rockaways, restoring a house damaged during Hurricane Katrina. It was a great opportunity to get out of the office with our team to build deeper relationships and gain some sweat equity. Skills-based service on the other hand includes pro bono support, which must promise to deliver a high-quality final work product to the recipient nonprofit organization that it otherwise would have to pay for, using the day-to- day skills of a company employee (more information can be found on these criteria in CECP’s Valuation Guide at

Some leading non-profits, such as SBP, are effectively matching skills-based service of corporate employees with the major community challenges that they were created to solve. SBP forms partnerships with corporations in three strategic ways. 

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