Business and Nonprofit Leaders Encourage Volunteerism  

Encouraging employees to use their professional skills in volunteer work, leaders at the Summit on Corporate Volunteerism have just kicked off a national campaign to engage more of America's business professionals in the work of nonprofits and communities. A growing number of companies have begun to support employee volunteering by shifting to a "pro bono" approach - where employees apply the professional skills they use everyday in the workplace to help nonprofits meet community needs.

The recent summit aims to fuel this growing trend. More than 120 business, government, and nonprofit leaders - including U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao and Fortune 500 executives - will set goals and map strategies for making "pro bono" as common in marketing, finance, technology, and management consulting as it is in the legal field.

Deloitte, Intel, IBM, and other companies will announce pledges totaling more than $110 million in skilled volunteering or pro bono service, with several more companies accepting the challenge to create or expand such corporate initiatives in the years ahead.

"America's workers are immensely talented, and when they volunteer their time and skills great things happen -- in their companies and in our communities," said Jean Case, Chair of the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation, which sponsored the Summit. "Today we are calling on leaders across the private sector to go pro bono and help unleash the extraordinary power of skilled workers to help nonprofits better meet social needs."

Companies have long recognized the value of employee volunteer programs in bettering their communities while driving up morale, retention, and productivity. But to get more 'bang for the buck,' more companies are shifting to a pro bono approach. Instead of painting a school or cleaning a park, employees use their professional skills - such as marketing professionals creating an outreach campaign; logistics experts helping a food bank improve its delivery system; or IT professionals installing a local network.

"We have fundamentally changed the way we approach pro bono service in order to bring the full strength of our organization to bear for nonprofits," said Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte LLP, which just announced a three-year $50 million commitment to pro bono service. "With the same level of commitment and sophistication that we approach our commercial client engagements, Deloitte is now positioned to drive high-impact results for our pro bono clients."

Other companies and organizations that announced specific pro bono commitments in conjunction with the Summit are the following: Intel; IBM; Accenture; Harvard Business School Community Partners; Manning, Selvage, and Lee, Public Architecture; and the Taproot Foundation. Ten other organizations have pledged to become Pro Bono Champions: Citi; General Electric; ING; UPS; Monitor Group; Entrepreneur Foundation; Target, McKenna, Long, and Aldridge; National Geographic Society; and Butler Rubin, Saltarelli & Boyd LLP.