Now entering its third year, the Skills-Based Volunteer Program at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) is focused on making high impact, long-term progressive change for select nonprofit partners. To meet this end, BCBSMA recognizes the importance of leveraging local talent when implementing an impactful corporate citizenship initiative. This talent forms the foundation of the Skills-Based Volunteer Program in which recruited employees are paired with local nonprofit organizations that have a need for their particular skills and experience.
The problems at the heart of the nonprofit sector’s work rarely lend themselves to easy answers. In areas ranging from education and environmental protection to social services reform and civil rights, achieving real and lasting impact often means changing complex and dynamic systems. No single organization can succeed in this work on its own. Many nonprofit leaders understand this and are making collective action a hallmark of their work.
Nonprofit managers who have experience working with pro bono consultants are likely to agree with these four principles for a successful engagement identified by Elizabeth Linzer of Catchafire.
We suddenly have a real opportunity to address the obstacles standing in the way of more social change. But to get there, donors and nonprofits have to recognize and openly address what holds the sector back. More effective philanthropy stems from more productive partnerships between philanthropic and nonprofit leaders and a willingness to remedy together the hurdles in the way.
In days of scarce resources and seemingly endless philanthropic choices, family foundations and funds can frequently feel overwhelmed by options and unsure where to best place their philanthropic bets. Many funders wisely choose a focus area for funding, and then proceed to investigate – or be approached by – any number of apparently worthy organizations to support within that field.
Grantmakers can be more effective in addressing complex community challenges when they have strong partnerships with community organizations and members. Authentic, firsthand understanding of and engagement with grantees, community members and other partners enables grantmakers to make informed decisions, secure community buy-in and build a strong foundation for sustainable solutions to community problems. This engagement and understanding doesn’t start and end with program implementation; it extends also to the learning and evaluation process.
Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from Karen Kelley-Ariwoola's 2012 James A. Joseph Lecture titled "Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities: Mobilizing Our Resources for Impact," which she delivered during the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) Annual Conference in April 2012.
This case study explores how the Corporation for Supportive Housing worked with AchieveMission to make investments in its human capital management abilities in order to realign its workforce more closely with its strategic
goals and therefore improve outcomes and increase effectiveness across the board. This case study is not an evaluation of AchieveMission, its Talent Initiative program or the Corporation for Supportive Housing. Instead, it
provides the story of one organization’s experience and how it felt to create sweeping internal changes with an eye toward securing greater impact.
Case studies explain how small and mid-sized arts groups learn, adapt and grow in the Midwest.
This briefing suggests ways to build the social sector’s infrastructure.