Striking when the iron is hot
Written by Banu Raghuraman
Knowing how and when to engage in pro bono consulting is an important question facing non-profits and charitable organizations, and there are plenty of tools available to aid in the decision. We caught up with a few leaders at Endeavour to uncover patterns of when our clients decide to engage with Endeavour and what type of help they seek. Here are some excerpts.
Are there common consulting/assessment types of Endeavour projects? For example, Marketing Strategy, Corporate Strategy, etc.
Hadi: Yes, some types come up more often than others. There are a lot of projects dealing with marketing strategy such as branding and messaging, as well as projects on strategic planning, feasibility studies, and organizational strategy.
Typically we are engaged to do one thing, but the focus changes as the project is finalized. It changes because the non-profit may not have prioritized their issues or have not yet identified the underlying problem. As well, Endeavour may feel that the project should focus on a different issue, depending on what they notice as a root cause.
Jonathan: Lately, the most common types of projects we see are strategic plan development and the development of a marketing/re-branding strategy. We also see organizations that require the development of an operations strategy and sometimes an organizational or governance strategy is required. Occasionally we see non-profits asking us to do some type of feasibility study.
Do you find that certain charities comes up with similar types of projects? For example, strategy-related projects are more common for hunger related charities etc.
Jonathan: In my time at Endeavour, I haven’t really seen a trend with respect to types of project and landscape under which the organization operates. However, lately, engagements have included more strategic plans and marketing/rebranding strategies as opposed to any other types of projects. Perhaps there is a trend between groups operating in the community services sector and needs for operational strategy, but this is simply a light qualitative observation by looking at past projects, and is in no way statistically correlated.
What types of charities approach Endeavour?
Hadi: All different types of charities approach Endeavour, but the focus is on health, youth related, arts and culture, and education.
Are there any other statistics that you can share with regards to consulting/assessment types?
Hadi: From the Client Surveys that have been completed recently by Endeavour showing Impact and Satisfaction, we have the following results to share: 82% of clients state that project recommendations exceeded their expectation; 75% of clients are planning to implement most recommendations; 20% of clients will be implementing all recommendations; and100% of clients would recommend Endeavour to another non-profit.
What would you say is the driving force behind influencing these project types?
Jonathan: Endeavour advertises on our website that we offer consulting in four areas – corporate strategy, marketing strategy, operations strategy, and organizational strategy. Thus non-profit organizations potentially interested in our services tend to ask for assistance in one of these areas. From time to time, project types will change once a consulting team meets with the client and discusses the problems that they are tasked with addressing in the engagement.
When would you say is a good time for a charity to contact Endeavour, when it feels it is challenged with an issue or when a charity is newly established?
Hadi: Different people might have different opinions on this, as there is no single recipe that fits all. Non-profits who are asking for consulting advice should have been in operation long enough to know what they want to do and what their social impact is. In fact, we have a requirement in our application that requires the non-profit to have been established for a minimum of two years. We want the organizations we work with to be sustainable and stable. If not, they may not able to implement our suggestions and recommendations. They should have a vision and mission, and be stable enough to support the consulting team. Once this is in place, there isn’t a right or wrong time – they can come ‘early’ or ‘later’.
Most of these charities are light on resources and are not necessarily always clear on what they want when they come to Endeavour. We go through client selection and identification to make sure they will benefit from our help. By selecting the most suitable clients, the projects will go smoothly, ensuring our recommendations can be implemented resulting in positive impact.
Jonathan: Anytime! A potential client shouldn’t necessarily wait until a big problem has developed that they need to really focus on fixing it. Ideally, organizations do internal reviews and recognize issues before they become problems. For example; is the vision clear, is the mission still relevant, are the strategic goals of the organization clearly defined, and are they in line with the mission and vision? It will be easier for any organization, especially smaller non-profits with limited resources, to correct any minor issues before they turn into major ones.
Pro Bono and Skills-Based Volunteering: An Innovative Approach to Leadership Development
Written by Andrea Wong
With the changing demographics and increasingly competitive business environment, pro bono and skills-based volunteering represent not only a creative component of a company’s corporate responsibility strategy, but also an innovative approach to employee engagement, leadership development and talent retention. Last month, Endeavour and AstraZeneca had the opportunity to present this concept at the 31st Annual NAAAP International Convention, a three-day convention and career fair focused on leadership and diversity, hosted in Toronto from August 8-10, 2013.
What is pro bono and skills-based volunteering?
To begin understanding how pro bono and skills-based volunteering represent an innovative approach to leadership development, it is helpful to start with a definition. According to Volunteer Canada, skills-based volunteering is a service to a non-profit organization by an individual or group that leverages personal talents or core business or professional skills, and experience or education, for the purpose of building organizational strength and capacity.
Skills-based volunteering can also be understood from the perspective of corporate community engagement, as shown in Figure 1. Traditionally and most commonly, companies support non-profits through monetary grants and donations. As we move right along the continuum, engagement with the community becomes deeper – more than just writing a cheque. Skills-based volunteering can range from volunteering general skills like literacy tutoring, to serving on a board, to pro bono where an individual is volunteering professional skills in, for example, marketing or human resources. Endeavour focuses primarily on pro bono – the highest end of skills-based volunteering.
The business value of pro bono and skills-based volunteering
Endeavour is part of a growing global movement focused on engaging both professionals and companies in pro bono and skills-based volunteering. In the U.S, more than 500 companies, including corporate leaders like Google, HP, American Express and Deloitte, have already pledged to provide $2 billion worth of pro bono and skills-based volunteer services to non-profits through the Billion+Change campaign.
Research shows that there are many motivations and benefits for professionals and companies to engage in pro bono and skills-based volunteering. A report by Pro Bono Lab and Taproot Foundation speaks specifically to the business value in terms of human resources, reputation, and innovation for a company. In terms of professional and leadership development, pro bono and skills-based volunteering include some of the following benefits:
- Creating a broader range of training opportunities that sharpen employees’ skills which are directly applicable to the work environment
- Aiding in transitioning employees to new jobs or across divisions
- Increasing opportunities to measure employee performance, including potential to promote outstanding employees
- Improving employees’ skills in multiple areas, including communication, networking, problem-solving, leadership, team-building, presentation, negotiation, and decision-making.
According to the research, 75 percent of management also report leadership development as a result of pro bono and skills-based volunteering. As well, using pro bono and skills-based volunteering to develop the leadership skills of high potential employees can be less expensive than recruiting new executives or providing traditional training. Supporting this research is an article published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review earlier this year that called skills-based volunteering the new executive training ground, pointing to the cultural skills and adaptive mindset that individuals learn through skills-based volunteering that cannot be taught. All these benefits correspond with what we have seen through our work at Endeavour over the last six years, including in our most recent partnership with AstraZeneca Canada to introduce pro bono and skills-based volunteering opportunities to their employees.
A Canadian business case for pro bono and skills-based volunteering presented at the 2013 NAAAP International Convention
In 2012, AstraZeneca Canada partnered with Endeavour to offer an employer-supported skills-based volunteer project as part of its corporate responsibility platform and approach to employee engagement. Using the Endeavour model, the AstraZeneca volunteer team provided management consulting services to one of the company’s charitable partners.
In August, Endeavour and AstraZeneca presented this pioneering partnership in Canada at the 2013 NAAAP International Convention. The session began with an introduction to pro bono and skills-based volunteering as an innovative approach to leadership development, with highlights of research from the field and real-life examples of leadership development among Endeavour volunteers. AstraZeneca employees, Anne-Marie Godbold and Krystin Scheider who volunteered on the consulting engagement, presented the Endeavour/AstraZeneca case. They shared their experience with skills-based volunteering within the corporate context, including how it contributed to professional and leadership development, team building, and employee engagement at AstraZeneca. During the interactive panel with the AstraZeneca volunteers and Endeavour representatives (Steven Ayer, Dave Nanderam, Andrea Wong), questions from the audience touched upon a variety of issues, ranging from the success factors for skills-based volunteering in a company to the uniqueness of Endeavour’s model.
The number and diversity of questions that came up at the session revealed not only a keen interest in pro bono and skills-based volunteering among professionals in Canada, but also indicated that more awareness-raising and education needs to be done in this area. In an effort towards this, Endeavour will be participating in 2013 Pro Bono Week from October 20 to 26. Among the planned activities for Pro Bono Week, Endeavour and AstraZeneca will release a business case for pro bono and skills-based volunteering in Canada, highlighting the success of the partnership as well as success factors and advice to other companies looking to launch a similar program.
To ensure you receive a copy of the business case and to keep up-to-date for the latest in the field of pro bono and skills-based volunteering, be sure to join Endeavour’s mailing list and to follow Endeavour on Facebook,LinkedIn and Twitter. If you are interested in exploring pro bono and skills-based volunteering partnership opportunities with Endeavour, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to our newest Clients!
Endeavour is happy to introduce their Round 13 clients, and the type of engagement planned:
The Hearing Foundation of Canada – Marketing Plan/Strategy www.thfc.ca
The Mighty Pen Project – Feasibility Study www.themightypen.org
Rideau Environmental Action League – Business Plan Development www.REALaction.ca
Toronto Intergenerational Partnerships in Community – Branding Strategy www.tigp.org
Wishing our Round 13 clients and volunteers a productive and successful engagement. Stay tuned for pictures and updates along the way!
Free Management Consulting Available for Non-profits – Next round of applications will soon be open for the Winter of 2013
Are you a non-profit organization that can’t afford paid management consulting services? Do you need help with strategic planning, business planning, marketing strategy, or volunteer management? Endeavour Volunteer Consulting for Non-profits has provided free management advice to more than 60 non-profit organizations. Our next round of applications will be open later this year, so please visit our website in November for updates on our deadline and application requirements Apply Now.
Watch for NEW Volunteer Consultant and Engagement Manager Opportunities Applications will soon be open for next year’s projects
If you are interested in volunteering for one of our consulting projects, we will be opening a new round of applications this December. Visit our website in December for updates on the application process and deadlines. Projects will start in March of 2014.
Global Pro Bono Week
Endeavour is representing Canada in the global celebration of Pro Bono Week from Oct 20-26.
We will be announcing an exciting line-up of events, including a new pro bono program with Capital One Canada, the release of a business case for pro bono with Astra Zeneca Canada, and a crowdfunding campaign..
Find out more at: http://www.endeavourvolunteer.ca/2013-pro-bono-week-in-canada/
Making History: Endeavour’s Crowdfunding campaign
Pro Bono Marathon: One-Day Consulting Challenge
Endeavour is raising funds through a Crowdfunding Campaign in order to host the Pro Bono Marathon in Toronto in Spring 2014. The Pro Bono Marathon is an innovative one-day volunteer program that will bring together teams of consultants in an 8-hour challenge to help non-profits identify an organizational opportunity and achieve greater impact. Key activities include project scoping, working effectively with Pro Bono consultants, and how to find pro bono resources.
As a volunteer-run charity, Endeavour cannot respond to the growing demand for pro bono without additional funds. So we are turning to you – our alumni, volunteers and community – to contribute.
Show your support here!