Monday, September 24, 2012

Want Some Pro-Bono Corporate Support?

This post was written by The Advisory Board Company's Community Impact Senior Director Graham McLaughlin. Graham is also one of the newest members of the DCAYA Board of Directors.

In my role as a Senior Director within The Advisory Board Company’s “Community Impact” program I am fortunate to meet with corporate and non-profit leaders as well as keep abreast of the insights of thought leaders in both sectors.

I learn a tremendous amount from these leaders, but I’m continually surprised by one pervasive notion among this group, especially non-profit funders.  Specifically, the belief that in order to thrive non-profits must adopt corporate principles and become more efficient.  As a member of a firm that focuses on best practice insights and technology solutions enabling greater efficiency through data-driven management, I certainly agree with the importance of efficient and effective practices, however, I would argue no one sector has a monopoly in this area.

No broad stroke can be applied to all organizations in a particular sector, but I do think on average my corporate colleagues and I can learn a tremendous amount from well-run non-profits on how to stretch a dollar effectively and build a framework that is purpose and profit maximizing.  At the same time, corporations are relentlessly driven by improving outcomes and effectiveness, and can hopefully provide our non-profit (and political) colleagues support in measuring impact and then investing in areas yielding the most effective outcomes.

The beauty of pro bono work is that it can take this macro-level concept of learning from each other and apply it to solve specific social problems.  The Advisory Board is fortunate to partner with many youth-oriented DC-area non-profits that are tremendous at what they do, and therefore develop skills and leadership abilities in our employees that would take years of corporate experience to obtain, while at the same time also utilizing our areas of expertise to further critical but underdeveloped areas that enable these partners to exponentially increase the scope of impact and overall effectiveness of their mission-driven work.

DC-AYA is one such partner, as our many of its members.  For instance, Advisory Board teams have helped BUILD DC develop a methodology for evaluating potential partnerships as well as the health of current collaborations, recently reviewed and updated the collateral and messaging strategy for Urban Alliance to ensure the organization’s mission was conveyed consistently and effectively across different stakeholder groups, and had a technical team partner with the LatinAmerican Youth Center’s CIO to provide an IT assessment of current and potential systems.

These are only three examples of the many organizations we are proud to have partnered with that count themselves as members of the DC Alliance for Youth Advocates. Due to the mutually beneficial partnerships to date with your peers, and our strong desire to provide access to a brighter future for ALL youth, I am excited to announce our upcoming 2nd annual Week of Service and with it a call to action if you are in need of skills-based or other volunteering support.

The Advisory Board Company is on pace to donate over 13,000 hours of service this year, with approximately 2,500 of those hours being delivered during the October 1-5th Week of Service.  Examples of impact during the week include a“branding blitz” put on by our strategic marketing and design services teams, our research team dedicating a day to finding best practice answers to strategic questions or issues of concern for non-profits, and numerous groups going out into the community to have a hands-on impact.

If your organization is in need of skills-based or other support during this week (or in general), please do not hesitate to contact me, as our firm is excited to partner with organizations that are excellent at what they do and can use the complementary expertise of our employees to drive positive social impact and mutual professional growth. 

We are excited to continue to learn from the amazing work that is accomplished by our colleagues in the DC non-profit community, and hope that we can provide complementary support in our areas of strength to ensure a mutually beneficial partnership.

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