This is a continuation of a post on the philanthropic-minded TaprootFoundation.org.
I’m looking for someone who shares my interests in philanthropy, is adaptable, and will ultimately enhance my day-to-day life.
No, this isn’t an online dating profile. In fact, the new partnership between LinkedIn and the Taproot Foundation may feel like a matching service (connecting needs to corresponding assets, profile assessment, etc.), because it is! The new TaprootFoundation.org aligns business professionals interested in pursuing philanthropic goals with nonprofits in need of their assets.
I was lucky enough to get the scoop on this project through Taproot’s Aaron Hurst and Meg Garlinghouse of LinkedIn. (Full disclosure: Meg Garlinghouse sits on Network for Good’s Board.) You can read part I of my interview here, and part II below.
AM: You’ve noted that the while pro bono services are increasing in usage, nonprofits remain unable to communicate their needs. This partnership fills that gap. Can you expand on how this works?
AH: We have done the research with funding from Microsoft and HP to really define the most common nonprofit consulting needs. We broke it down into the 120 most common projects. This gives nonprofits a great starting place to define their need. We each of these project types we share a number of details including the likely professionals needed to help the nonprofit with that need. So, now they know the project as well as the roles they need.
MG: LinkedIn then makes the next step of finding the professionals easier. Our platform enables you to search on the specific criteria that Taproot helped defined in terms of what you need. The nonprofit went from not knowing what they want, who they need and where to find them to having all three.
Check out this example on searching for pro bono consultant help on the creation of a nonprofit fundraising plan.
AH: [This partnership] is also playing a key role in connecting nonprofits to companies and other organizations that can provide pro bono services not as individuals but as organizations. Over $2 billion in pro bono services have been pledge to Billion + Change, but there is currently no resources out there for nonprofits to approach these companies or others out there that offer pro bono services. With LinkedIn we have identified over 300 providers across the country and integrated LinkedIn member database into the information provided about each company. You can learn about a company like Bain & Company and also see who in your network has the right connections to help you make the "ask". This makes pro bono from top organizations accessible to small but high potential nonprofits who may not be golfing buddies with a Bain partner.
AM: Let’s get nerdy for a second. How can professionals in the corporate world get involved? Can you walk me through the process?
MG: We are hopeful that this platform will become the primary conduit for business professionals to engage in the community. The great thing about it is that it is driven by nonprofit demand but still enables them to leverage their social capital.
AH: It creates a really healthy dynamic of being client-centric which we have found in our 10+ years build the field is the key to success. We want nonprofits to pull business professionals in and not have them pushed on them as they are in most corporate settings.
That said, for business professionals who want to be proactively involved, the best thing they can do is join a nonprofit board. As a board member they can help the nonprofit scope their needs and then use their own LinkedIn network to recruit the talent the organization needs. It is one of the most powerful forms of philanthropy out there.