View Sample Projects

If this is your first time engaging in skills-based volunteering, or even if it is your tenth time, it can be hard to visualize how you will get from Point A to Point B to achieve your goals. We have provided some examples, tips, and templates to give you a headstart on your project brainstorming.

Click on your focus area to get started.

Wondering how skilled volunteers can support your organization during the COVID-19 crisis? Check out the first section below for crisis-specific projects and then click through the functional areas for general capacity-building support.

Responding to and Mitigating Crises: Disaster Resiliency

How can skilled volunteers support your organization with crisis and continuity planning?

Skilled volunteers with expertise across the functions of operations, contingency planning, risk mitigation and crisis management can support your organization to maintain or scale your services during a crisis that results in a rise in community need, a fluctuation in organizational resources, or an unforeseen disruption to your operations.

What are common project types?

Keep in mind that these are just a few popular project types that might be particularly relevant during the current COVID-19 crisis. That said, your volunteers need not be limited to these examples – think expansively based on the strains your organization is currently experiencing.

Strategy / Cross-Functional Projects

  • Strategic Growth Planning: A volunteer shares recommendations and best practices for adjusting and reforecasting growth and impact metrics to reflect the effects of a crisis on service model, finances, and staff
  • Product / Service Delivery Innovation Plan: A volunteer creates a plan to adapt an organization’s product or service for virtual delivery, social distancing protocols, or a new operating environment by providing strategic and operational recommendations
  • Program Value Assessment Framework: A volunteer creates a framework for an organization to compare its programs’ financial, operational, and mission contributions to the organization as a whole. In a crisis scenario, this framework can inform an organization in making a holistic decision to continue or sunset specific programming or initiatives.
  • Partnership Network Framework: A volunteer creates a framework to identify and strategize local nonprofit and corporate partnerships for potential to share facilities, products, referrals, and volunteers during a crisis situation.

Operations / Programming Projects

  • Business and Services Continuity Planning: A volunteer assesses an organization’s continuity of operations (COOP) plan and provides recommendations for infrastructure, facilities, technology and staffing protocols for significant and unexpected interruption in operations
  • Demand Surge Modeling: A volunteer creates a framework for modeling different volumes of output needed from an organization (e.g. meals, counseling sessions, etc.) during various disaster scenarios. The framework will include neighborhood-level factors such as demographics and availability of peer organizations in the area.
  • Process Innovation Support: A volunteer identifies temporary process or operations modifications that will support an organization in adhering to operational constraints (public health requirements, social distancing, etc.) during times of crisis.
  • Donation Management: A volunteer supports an organization in developing a distribution strategy and budget to guide the use of funds received post-disaster and prioritize infrastructure rebuilding needs
  • Volunteer and / or In-Kind Donation Management: A volunteer conducts an assessment of an organization’s capacity for volunteer and in-kind donations and develops a strategy for redirecting or requesting additional support during influxes or dips in resources
  • Earned Revenue Product Strategy: A volunteer supports a nonprofit in identifying potential products to develop into an earned income revenue strategy. In a crisis scenario, a volunteer will identify key business areas of the product to strengthen to operate in or rebound from a crisis or economic downturn.

Financial Management Projects

  • Financial Scenario Planning: A volunteer develops a financial template and framework to help an organization analyze potential emergency budget scenarios and provides recommendations for mitigating financial risks
  • Financial Cost–Benefit Analysis: A volunteer develops a template and framework to identify financial costs and benefits associated with a specific program or initiative. In a crisis scenario, this analysis can inform an organization’s decision to sunset or invest in programming by identifying the net financial value of the program.
  • Volunteer Workforce Valuation: A volunteer creates a framework to quantify the operational costs of working with a reduced volunteer workforce during times of crisis. This framework will help the organization identify costs associated with loss in productivity and hiring part-time staff to replace volunteers.

Human Resources Projects

  • Temporary or Emergency Staffing Plan: A volunteer creates a framework to identify staff members’ contributions to essential program service and delivery needs to inform a strategy to operate with reduced, remote, or increased staff.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Review: A volunteer assesses an organization’s DEI policies and provides recommendations for increasing / maintaining diversity in hiring, retention, advancement, or – in times of crisis – unavoidable staff reduction and layoffs.
  • Organizational Culture Review & Recommendations: A volunteer assesses an organization’s volunteer and personnel policies and provides recommendations for strengthening HR policies to be robust to times of crisis (when individuals may be working in stressful situations and resources / support may be low).

Marketing  & Communications Projects

  • Crisis Communications Plan: A volunteer assesses the key internal and external audiences that an organization must communicate with during a disaster and develops recommendations for a communication plan that address each stakeholder group.

Technology Projects

  • IT Infrastructure Assessment or Migration: A volunteer assesses an organization’s IT infrastructure to identify weak spots in the event of physical disruption or an influx of utilization. The volunteer will provide recommendations for strengthening systems and / or migration to cloud based infrastructure
  • Technology Vendor Selection: A volunteer develops requirements and selection criteria for a new technology vendor (e.g. for virtual program delivery / fundraising, emergency management / data collection, CRM, website CMS, Cloud-based intranet, etc.) and provides guidance about the selection process
  • Technology Platform Training: A volunteer conducts a training on a platform, system or software that is common or new to nonprofit operations, such as Microsoft Office suite (Excel, Word, PowerPoint), Adobe Creative Suite, WordPress, Salesforce, or a virtual service delivery platform.

Data & Analytics Projects

  • Data Management Assessment: A volunteer assesses an organization’s data collection and management system for a specific product or process and provides recommendations for modifications that might better serve the organization’s reporting needs during regular operations or times of crisis
  • Natural Disaster Risk Assessment: A volunteer identifies an organization’s risk factors to specific natural disaster by analyzing topographical and geographical data. The volunteer will develop an overall risk profile and provide recommendations for geographic contingency plans

Development / Client Relations Projects

  • Funder Conversation Strategy: A volunteer defines a strategy for approaching and cultivating new funders within a relatively short time horizon. The strategy will include best practices around having challenging conversations with funders about an evolving situation

What are some tools to get started?

Take Common Impact’s organizational resiliency assessment to identify potential gaps in your organization’s disaster preparedness strategy and determine what types of volunteer support you might consider.

A volunteer can use this continuity of operations guide from the Alliance for Human Services to help your organization design a customized plan for continuing services during a crisis.

Use this crisis communications toolkit from the Colorado Nonprofit Association to, with a volunteer’s support, plan how to message crucial, time sensitive information to your organization’s key internal and external audiences.

A volunteer with expertise in risk management and financial planning can help your organization conduct the exercises suggested in the Wallace Foundation’s financial scenario planning guide, in order to understand your options for navigating a crisis while maintaining financial health.

What does a final result look like?

The fast-moving, yet protracted nature of the COVID-19 crisis is causing unprecedented disruption for the social sector and the communities it serves. Given that organizations are experiencing acute but ongoing challenges, quick-hit models of pro bono support may best serve organizations at this time, as opposed to more significant, longer-term undertakings. That said, we offer below a few examples of successful emergency preparedness projects to demonstrate the concept of skills-based volunteering as a tool to strengthen an organization’s disaster assistance capabilities:

JPMorgan Chase employees built a financial model that enabled International Medical Corps’ to understand the costs of deploying “portable health facilities” to provide critical health services in disaster zones. Read about the project to understand how a pro bono financial modeling project could inform your organization’s crisis response services.

A team of volunteers from Fidelity Charitable developed a custom web app that enables the American Red Cross to efficiently and dependably process any IT donations they receive and rapidly distribute them to aid workers providing life-saving disaster response services. Read about the project to see how pro bono technologists could advance your organization’s infrastructure to enhance your on-the-ground services.

Telling Your Story: Marketing

How can skilled volunteers support marketing, communications, and branding efforts?

Skilled volunteers with marketing expertise can dramatically increase an organization’s internal branding infrastructure and its external marketing presence and reach.

What are common project types?

Keep in mind that these are just a few popular project types; your volunteers need not be limited to these examples!

Competitive Analysis: A volunteer conducts a competitive analysis (landscape scan, focus groups and/or interviews) to help your organization understand and define your positioning and value proposition, as compared to your peer service providers.

Communications Plan: A volunteer develops a time-bound roadmap that outlines the communications activities your organization will follow to achieve key presence-building goals with select target audiences. Activities may focus on traditional or digital communications channels.

PR Strategy: A volunteer assesses your organization’s current public relations efforts and crafts a framework for media cultivation and distribution. The strategy may include media training, a press list, and/or relevant media resources (talking points, press kits, etc.).

Brand Attributes Definition: A volunteer defines and documents brand attributes such as target audiences, audience characteristics and interests, and communications tone.

Visual Identity Development: A volunteer develops a new logo, tagline, and style guide, along with recommendations for incorporating the new brand identity into your organization’s materials.

Collateral Assessment: A volunteer analyzes existing collateral for consistency of look, feel, and messaging and provides recommendations for greater alignment across your marketing portfolio.

Collateral Development: A volunteer develops one to two prioritized pieces of marketing collateral such as brochures, annual reports, newsletters, or webpages.

What are some tools to get started?

A volunteer can utilize this messaging framework to define your organization’s messaging around a particular program or initiative. This template is based on a product created by volunteers from Charles Schwab for the Indiana nonprofit CHIP (Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention).

Use this social media calendar template to chart your social media activities with a volunteer skilled in media platforms and digital communications. This template is based on a product originally created by Charles Schwab volunteers for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Work with a volunteer to conduct a market analysis using Classy’s Guide to Market Research for nonprofits. A volunteer will be new to your market and will need your guidance to determine objectives, competitors, and key audiences or stakeholders. A volunteer with experience in survey development, data analysis, interviews and focus groups, and strategic messaging will complement your sector expertise with hard market research skills.

What does a final result look like?

View this external case study and brochure to see collateral that a team of State Street volunteers developed for Rebuilding Together Boston.

Managing Your Money : Financial Management

How can skilled volunteers support financial management?

Skilled volunteers with financial acumen can help stabilize and streamline your organization’s financial infrastructure, allowing you to make informed decisions about organizational development and operations.

What are common project types?

Keep in mind that these are just a few popular project types; your volunteers need not be limited to these examples!

Cost-Benefit Analysis: A volunteer quantifies the costs and benefits of a strategic decision such as determining the next city for organizational growth or defining the most cost-effective fundraising strategy.

Expansion Assessment: A volunteer assesses the benefits and drawbacks of expansion into a new market or venture by analyzing the marketplace and providing financial recommendations on pursuing the expansion.

Financial Modeling: A volunteer produces an interactive financial model that analyzes the true costs of running an existing program or launching a new service in order to help your organization make future decisions on program pricing, cost, and scale.

Revenue Diversification Strategy: A volunteer assesses your organization’s current revenue streams and provides recommendations for how to best diversify them to reduce risk.

Budgeting Process Development: A volunteer designs a process for finalizing a budget and tracking real-time budget status as it relates to your organization’s financial and operating goals.

Financial Systems Assessment and Development: A volunteer assesses your organization’s current financial management systems and develops tools or protocols to effectively manage your organization’s finances (e.g. accounting software, employee time-tracking, cash flow statement, income statement).

What are some tools to get started?

A volunteer can utilize Bridgespan’s Nonprofit Cost Analysis Toolkit to conduct a true-cost analysis to help you understand how your organization currently allocates funds across direct and indirect costs.

Work with a volunteer skilled in financial management to adjust this financial plan template, provided by La Piana Consulting, for your organization’s business planning needs. If you are a nonprofit, keep in mind that your financial management looks very different from for-profit financial management. If your volunteer is new to the sector, consider sharing resources like this one on nonprofit financial management.

What does a final result look like?

JPMorgan Chase employee volunteers developed a financial model to calculate the program costs of a new service for International Medical Corps. Read about the project to understand how a pro bono financial modeling project could support your own operations and/or expansion efforts.

A team of volunteers from Charles Schwab developed an interactive financial model to inform the development of a social enterprise run by Wheeler Mission Ministries. Read about the project to see how external financial expertise can help you launch a new program and increase earned income.

Skilled finance volunteers are well-positioned to create a financial dashboard that gives your organization a live visual of its financial status. Check out this resource from Nonprofit Quarterly to get a sense of what a financial dashboard could look like for your organization.

Defining Your Vision : Strategic and Business Planning

How can skilled volunteers support strategic and business planning?

Skills-based volunteers can provide strategic perspective to your organization to help underline key strategies, prioritize organizational goals, and develop a tactical plan to achieve those goals.

Keep in mind, projects that involve strategic or business planning typically require a higher level of engagement from your staff, a higher time commitment from your volunteer(s), and a more open communication structure between all project participants.

What are common project types?

Keep in mind that these are just a few popular project types; your volunteers need not be limited to these examples!

Strategic Plan Development: A volunteer develops or updates a strategic plan for the organization, including conducting an environmental scan or market analysis, facilitating the creation of organizational goals and priorities, and documenting an operational plan to achieve your goals.

SWOT Analysis: A volunteer conducts internal and external market research and develops a SWOT analysis that outlines your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Mission, Vision, and Values Definition: A volunteer conducts market and stakeholder research on organizational focus and impact and develops a refined mission, vision, and values statement for your organization.

Business Plan Development: A volunteer develops a full business plan for a specific program or initiative, including conducting financial analysis and projections, identifying operational, marketing, and HR considerations, and defining benchmarks/KPIs for successful implementation.

Board of Directors Engagement Strategy: A volunteer defines a strategy to effectively engage your Board of Directors in stewarding key strategic or governance objectives.

What are some tools to get started?

Have a volunteer complete this competitive analysis template to identify peer organizations in your service area and analyze their overlap with your stakeholder audiences (donors, volunteers, clients, etc.), as an antecedent to a strategic expansion or planning process. This template is based on a product created by volunteers from Fidelity Investments for Junior Achievement of Eastern North Carolina.

Walk through this template with a volunteer to jumpstart a strategic planning process by outlining high-level goals and vision. This template is based on a process originally defined by Charles Schwab volunteers for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Work with a senior pro bono volunteer to adapt some of BoardSource’s tools to assess your Board’s performance and better engage your Board in the strategic planning process. We recommend this Board of Directors Performance Matrix as a good place to start; the objectivity of an external volunteer will be a great asset to you in this process.

What does a final result look like?

At a day-long flash consulting event, a team of skilled volunteers from Charles Schwab helped the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale to structure their strategic planning efforts during a time of transition. Read about the long-term impact of this quick-hit support here.

Building Systems for Impact : Technology

How can skilled volunteers support IT and technology efforts?

Skilled volunteers with Information Technology (IT) and other technical skills can solidify your organization’s IT infrastructure, streamline platforms and processes, and decrease organizational issues related to technology.

What are common project types?

Keep in mind that these are just a few popular project types; your volunteers need not be limited to these examples!

IT Infrastructure Assessment & Strategic Plan: A volunteer assesses all elements of IT infrastructure, develops recommendations for infrastructure improvements to support operations, and crafts a strategic IT investment and implementation plan.

Networking & Security Implementation: A volunteer develops a network that protects files against intruders, connects multiple offices to the same central file system, or builds networking infrastructure that facilitates office expansion.

Vendor Selection: A volunteer develops requirements for a new technology vendor (e.g. Client Relationship Management system (CRM), website content management system (CMS), cloud-based intranet) and guides your organization through the selection process.

Website Assessment: A volunteer analyzes your organization’s website and documents recommendations for ways in which the visual design, architecture, and layout could be changed to better achieve your organizational goals.

Website Development: A volunteer adds functionality to an existing website or creates a brand-new site that helps your organization engage key constituents more effectively.

Database Assessment: A volunteer assesses the use and architecture of a database system and provides recommendations for changes that would streamline operations and improve data outcomes.

Database Development: A volunteer develops a database that manages program participants, improves fundraising efficiency, and/or generates statistics to indicate programmatic success.

Data Visualization: A volunteer develops a reporting structure that displays organizational data in a clear dashboard that enables leadership, staff, and funders to easily understand organizational and program health.

What are some tools to get started?

This resource from Taproot Foundation and VMWare provides a process-driven approach to identifying technology needs and deploying user-centric solutions with the help of pro bono volunteers.

Use this technology strategy template to jumpstart a volunteer’s IT infrastructure planning efforts. This template is based on a process defined by Charles Schwab volunteers for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

A volunteer can leverage this comparison matrix to conduct a vendor or product assessment that guides your organization to select the solution best suited to your needs.

What does a final result look like?

Technology volunteers from Fidelity Investments assessed a nonprofit’s IT infrastructure (including hardware and software) and identified opportunities to upgrade systems to better serve organizational goals. Check out the resulting IT Roadmap as an example of what a project of this nature can produce.

Check out the following websites, all of which were developed by skilled volunteers from Fidelity Investments:

Attracting, Retaining, and Developing Your People: Human Resources

How can skilled volunteers support Human Resources (HR) management and organizational development?

Skilled volunteers with experience in Human Resources can help develop the HR infrastructure of your organization and address the unique cultural and structural issues that arise in social sector environments.

What are common project types?

Keep in mind that these are just a few popular project types; your volunteers need not be limited to these examples!

Recruiting and Hiring Process: A volunteer works with key nonprofit staff to craft a job description, write interview questions, and define a hiring process that your organization can use when bringing on new employees.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan: A volunteer assesses your organization’s DEI practices via audit and stakeholder consultation and identifies action steps to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into your organization’s mission, vision, logic model, and internal operations.

Personnel Policy Development: A volunteer creates an employee handbook for your organization with detailed documentation about personnel policies. For this particular project, volunteers should have significant experience in employment law.

Benefits and Compensation Review: A volunteer conducts research on benefits and compensation packages offered by similar organizations and presents findings to your organization’s executives, along with a recommended benefits and compensation package and/or philosophy.

Staff Compensation Strategy: A volunteer develops a staff compensation and incentives strategy that codifies pay structures across roles, salary adjustment policies, and non-monetary rewards.

Performance Management Process Development: A volunteer revamps your organization’s performance management process by defining goal-setting and performance review processes.

Succession Plan: A volunteer works with leadership and/or your Board of Directors to develop a strategic roadmap for a leadership transition that ensures continuity and retains knowledge capital and relationships for the future.

What are some tools to get started?

If your organization recently went through or anticipates going through a significant change such as a leadership transition, expansion, or merger, consider engaging a skilled volunteer to guide your organization through the process. The following templates were created by a team of State Street volunteers to help Bottom Line navigate organizational change.

  • Use this stakeholder assessment template to identify key stakeholders involved in the change and plan for the degree of influence and engagement you need from them to achieve your intended impact.
  • Utilize this change management assessment template to track organizational changes, document their progress, flag the stakeholders impacted, and analyze the risks, benefits, and mitigation factors associated with each change element.
  • Work with a volunteer to customize this competency grid to codify your organizational performance expectations across roles.

What does a final result look like?

Charles Schwab volunteers developed a one-year training and onboarding plan for new employees at the Indiana Center for the Prevention of Youth Abuse & Suicide (formerly known as Chaucie’s Place) to standardize the year one experience for new employees and their managers.

As the Youth Finance Institute of America transitioned from a volunteer-based to a paid staff model, it recruited the support of employee volunteers from JPMorgan Chase to design a competitive benefits package for the organization. Read more about the project to learn how external HR expertise can help your organization attract and retain top talent.

Check out this sample personnel policy, provided by the National Council of Nonprofits, to see how a volunteer-created personnel policy could codify your growing organization’s employment policies and practices.

Cultivating Your Donors, Volunteers, and Clients: Stakeholder Engagement

How can skilled volunteers support donor or volunteer acquisition, cultivation, and retention?

While fundraising and volunteer management are unique to the social sector, skilled volunteers with expertise in client engagement can help your organization think critically about how it engages external stakeholders like donors, volunteers, or constituents.

What are common project types?

Keep in mind that these are just a few popular project types; your volunteers need not be limited to these examples!

Client Relationship Management (CRM) Infrastructure Assessment: A volunteer assesses your client relationship infrastructure (including relationship management goals, organizational approach to relationship building, staff capacity, and technology systems) and develops a roadmap to solidify an infrastructure that supports effective stakeholder relationships.

Donor, Volunteer, or Partner Growth Plan: A volunteer conducts an assessment of your relationship management process for a key stakeholder audience (corporate partners, volunteers, individual and institutional donors, and/or service recipients) and provides a strategic roadmap for cultivation and growth of that audience.

Capital Campaign Design: A volunteer conducts a feasibility study for a capital campaign and develops a timeline and execution plan to achieve revenue goals.

Donor Segmentation: A volunteer gathers information on existing and prospective donors and develops a framework that segments the donor pool into key demographics and provides recommendations for targeted cultivation.

Donor, Volunteer, and Client Service Management: A volunteer develops a customer service training and/or strategy that communicates tactics for donor, volunteer, or client communication, retention, and cultivation.

What are some tools to get started?

Complete this donor engagement planning template with a volunteer to jumpstart your donor cultivation planning process. This template is based on a process defined by Charles Schwab skilled volunteers for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Use this step-by-step donor engagement manual, developed by Charles Schwab volunteers for Boys and Girls Clubs of America, to guide a volunteer’s work to develop a donor cultivation plan for your organization.

Online platforms like VolunteerHub contain a wealth of information on best practices for volunteer management. Consider working with a volunteer skilled in client relations to adapt these volunteer management tools and strategies for your organization’s needs.

What does a final result look like?

Click here to learn how Charles Schwab volunteers defined a corporate partnership strategy for Arizona nonprofit OCJ Kids that led to a 50 percent increase in donor and volunteer engagement.

Click here to see how Charles Schwab volunteers helped the Sustainable Food Center cultivate customer relationships for a new program that led to three-fold growth in their reach.

Executing Your Services: Operations

How can skilled volunteers support program operations?

Skilled volunteers with operations backgrounds can help your organization increase the efficiency of your programs, allowing you to achieve sustainable growth and deepen your impact.

What are common project types?

Keep in mind that these are just a few popular project types; your volunteers need not be limited to these examples!

Information Mapping: A volunteer diagrams and documents methods for tracking and managing information across your organization using flow charts, job descriptions, and other organizational documentation.

Program Delivery Optimization: A volunteer creates a process map and analyzes ways to generate greater efficiency across multiple programs and services.

Crisis or Complaint Management: A volunteer develops a training guide to advance your staff’s ability to manage and deescalate a variety of crisis and complaint situations that may arise with clients, direct service recipients or stakeholders.

What are some tools to get started?

A volunteer can adapt this status report template for your organization to enable you to systematically track organizational activities and accomplishments. This template is based on a product created by a team of volunteers from State Street.

Consider recruiting a volunteer trained in the principles of Lean Six Sigma to apply efficient design principles to your organization’s workflow. Typically, individuals schooled in this methodology will be able to share a certificate to verify their expertise.

What does a final result look like?

A team of volunteers from Fidelity Investments worked with Educational First Steps to develop and implement an enhanced program service model. Read about the results of the operational recommendations on the organization’s sustainability and scale in this project snapshot.