Taking the Scary Out of HR. One Pro Bono Project at a Time.

March 26, 2014Alexis Denny

I was at an event recently, filled with nonprofit leaders representing organizations of all sizes and missions. The speaker was passionately advocating for nonprofits to take advantage of the many opportunities for pro bono skills-based service. Thankfully, the pro bono movement is gaining traction as nonprofits and businesses alike are realizing that skills-based support can be equally if not more effective than traditional volunteering.

The speaker took an inventory, asking what pro bono professional services nonprofits in attendance had utilized. “Who in the room has used a pro bono resource for web design?” he asked. A flurry of hands went into the air. “What about marketing support?” Another sea of hands. The speaker gave a few more examples, all with equally positive responses. Then he asked, “Who has used pro bono support to address an HR-related project or issue?” Not one person raised their hand.

Did not a single nonprofit in that room need HR guidance? We know that could not possibly be the case. Attracting, retaining and developing talent is commonly known to be one of the most critical challenges facing the nonprofit sector. We also know that the sector’s stability is threatened by high turnover, particularly at the executive levels. And, most nonprofit professionals openly consider lack of professional development opportunities as an organizational weakness. Well, if we know all that, then WHY aren’t nonprofit leaders raising their hands and asking for help when it comes to HR?

In a world where most nonprofits are small, have limited resources, and often do not have a dedicated HR professional on staff, is tackling an HR-related project just… scary?

The Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation developed the HR Pro Bono Corps not only to bring much-needed human capital consulting to nonprofits at no cost but to deliver that expertise in a manageable, non-intimidating way that carefully considers the limited resources and the often limited internal HR expertise of nonprofits. Through this program, the Foundation matches HR professionals looking to share their time and skills, to nonprofits in need of coaching or project-based consulting.

With the help and support we provide through the HR Pro Bono Corps, your nonprofit organization can easily tackle that HR challenge and realize that there’s nothing to fear. A nonprofit currently receiving support through the Corps recently shared, “We have made great progress with support from our HR Pro Bono Corps volunteer. We are finalizing the identification of employee characteristics that represent our key values, and we are on track for our first staff-wide Employee Performance review this summer. The process is feeling very thought-out, inclusive, and well-paced.”

Why do you think nonprofits don’t actively enlist assistance in addressing their HR-related projects? What are some areas in which your organization could use support?” We welcome your thoughts and comments.

And, if you’re not quite ready to take the leap, please do look out for our three-part HR Basics blog series, launching next week. This series will cover the ‘basics’- what all nonprofits should know in three critical areas of talent management: learning, performance and succession.

About Alexis Denny

As Director of the Nonprofit Empowerment Program, Alexis Denny is responsible for building and supporting the foundation's global portfolio of capacity building services, including the HR Pro Bono Corps and Gift of Learning.

Previously, Alexis worked in... more

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