Pro Bono Models

Pro bono forms and models are diverse. Companies wishing to provide pro bono, or civil society organizations willing to get pro bono assistance, are able to select the right form that is tailored to them. Companies also include pro bono programs in their CSR strategies and often combine pro bono programs with other types of assistance and social investments in order to achieve more significant social impact.

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For example, in 2003, IBM started an innovative volunteering program - On Demand Community complimenting the company's other social initiatives. The program expended gradually and covered 55 countries. Within the program, IBM provided computers and software to schools and non-commercial organizations working with underdeveloped communities. However, representatives of those organizations and communities lack sufficient knowledge and skills to use new technologies. This, in its turn, slows down their development. For this reason, IBM complimented this initiative with another one - employee volunteering initiative - sending its volunteers to provide free consultations and expert assistance to those organizations on using new technologies. (Philip Kotler, Nancy Lee, Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for your Company and Your Cause, 2005. pp. 196-198)

Find the model that suits your needs and capacities

Done in a Day Events

  • Training/seminar

    the company allows one or several representatives of a civil society organization free attendance on trainings it delivers to its clients or employees; or, the company prepares and holds a training for representatives of one or several civil society organizations, tailored to their needs.

  • Pro bono marathon

    Pro bono marathon is an exclusive one-day consulting event, that matches teams of 2-3 professionals with each participating nonprofit, to develop concrete and practical solutions to previously defined challenges (e.g. in the areas of advertising, marketing and communication, business strategy, financial management, or human resources etc.) Within a short, predetermined timeframe (usually 12 or 24 hours) enabling these organizations to accomplish their projects and leave the room with a deliverable in hand.

  • Scopeathon

    Scopeathon is an interactive one-day workshop, when teams of professionals from one or several companies work with civil society organizations in order to assess their weaknesses, identify existing problems or needs, and develop a scope of work for a future pro bono engagement. A civil society organization gets a specific action plan and a needs analysis.

  • Virtual office

    an hour or two-long telephone or online consultation with a subject-matter expert to discuss a specific issue or idea.

  • Speed dating

    During a day, representatives of a civil society organization meet (date) experts in various areas for a brief consultation. The goal of this model is to enable a civil society organization have face-to-face meetings with several experts in various areas and get consultations on smaller-scale needs.

Long-term Projects

  • Consultations

    the company allows its employees to spend a certain portion of their paid work-time on working with civil society organizations aimed at solving specific challenges they face (e.g. jointly develop human resources management strategy, etc.). Overall, the consulting process might even take several months and corporate volunteers might spend on the pro bono project a few hours a week/month.

  • Mentoring

    mentoring is a development-oriented form of a long-term consulting support. A mentor consults a beneficiary organization over a long period of time. Mentoring implies to regular consultancy meetings with certain frequency in order to assist in overcoming challenges of the beneficiary organization or implementing a specific project.

  • Long-term mission

    the company allows its employee to work at other organizations, even overseas (especially in developing countries), over longer periods of time, while still keeping his/her regular work position. Such approach implies a full-time commitment from 3 to 24 months, in general as a manager or consultant. The company’s financial contribution in such project is also different. The employee’s salary might be paid by the host organization, while the company might cover some part of the expenses (for example, travel costs, medical insurance costs, rent of appartment etc.). Employees usually use this approach during major career changes caused by early retirement, the company restructuring, etc.

  • Board membership

    company representatives volunteer to act as members of a supervisory board of a civil society organization, tender committee for a social project, or other similar boards.