Skills-Based Volunteering:
A Solution for the Social Sector

Social sector agencies form the backbone of communities across the world, providing the education, healthcare and social and civil services that enable us to lead healthy, prosperous, and just lives. As a social sector professional, you know that our sector spends the vast majority of our funding and staff resources on bringing these services to life.

As a result, social sector organizations often lack the resources needed to build infrastructure to grow and scale. Nonprofits spend an average of 2 percent of their budget on critical infrastructure funding, including the technology, operations, human resources, finance, and strategic planning functions that enable organizations to run and refine their services.1 Social enterprises, schools, and government agencies operate similarly lean operations. The private sector, in comparison, spends close to 35 percent of its budget on core business functions.

Barriers to Skills-Based Volunteering

Organizations report the top barriers to skills-based volunteering as:5

  1. Lack of support or resources to implement or maintain the final product
  2. Lack of understanding of the overall value
  3. Lack of understanding of time commitment

Skills-based volunteerism provides social sector organizations with targeted external expertise that strengthens their capacity to serve our communities.

In recent years, the practice of skills-based volunteerism has increased exponentially as citizens and businesses of all kinds have become significantly more socially aware and active. Today, over four million individuals have expressed interest in skills-based volunteerism on LinkedIn2 and more than 50 percent of companies channel­ the talents of their employees toward strengthening social sector organi­zations through formal pro bono programming.3 As a result, the sector has an ever-growing supply of skills to draw from.

Social sector organizations report widespread excitement about this growing resource. 72 percent of nonprofits believe they could increase their impact with the use of skilled volunteers, yet almost a quarter of these organizations say they have no plans to engage skills-based volunteers,4 largely due to a lack of know-how around how to effectively build, structure, and maintain skilled volunteer partnerships.

That’s where Capacity Commons comes in. This platform is designed to help you learn about using skills-based volunteering as a capacity and leadership-building tool and to engage with volunteers on key strategic projects that serve your mission.

Ready to dive in?

Read more about skills-based volunteering
Learn about the field’s history and opportunities in this report by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the HandsOn Network.

See what skills-based volunteering looks like
Check out common project types and sample projects from your peers.