THE BLOG
12/11/2013 08:25 am ET Updated Feb 10, 2014

A Billion Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

During the holidays we often think of "giving back" in terms of making a donation or giving a gift to someone else. What we often forget is that there's another way to give back and create change... through pro bono and skills-based volunteering. Simply put, why not take what you are good at such as graphic design, accounting, marketing, or human resources, for example, and use that skill to help your favorite nonprofit organization?

It's easy and the benefits are exponential. Did you know that for nonprofits and communities, the value of skilled support for general operations, technology, and professional services can be 500 percent greater than the value of traditional volunteering? (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics; Volunteerism ROI Tracker Analysis, True Impact) In fact, 92 percent of nonprofits across the nation say that they do not have enough pro bono support. (Source: Taproot National Data and Financial Dynamics)

One organization leading the charge for the pro bono movement is A Billion+Change -- a national campaign that is inspiring companies both small and large to develop meaningful pro bono and skills-based volunteer initiatives in service to nonprofits. So far, more than 500 of America's favorite brands have pledged more than $2 billion worth of pro bono and skills-based service to tackle tough problems in their communities and around the world-the largest commitment of pro bono service in history.

Your company can join the Billion+Change movement by visiting www.abillionpluschange.org. Whether you're an individual, a company leader or a nonprofit staffer, this website will help you learn more about how to get a pro bono project started.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Georgia Gillette, Lead Catalyst for A Billion+Change. I asked her to share examples of pro bono in action and she told me about Small Share and Business Doing Good:

SMALL SHARE:
In the United States, 49 million people don't have enough to eat. Many live in places like Washington, D.C., a city with stark contrasts: while one in eight households in the area struggle with hunger, there are hundreds of restaurants that serve thousands of patrons each day. Enter Small Share, a socially driven collaborative and technology application designed to support the fight against D.C. hunger by helping individuals harness their economic power to drive increased giving and overall social responsibility at restaurants across D.C. Using conscious consumerism, Small Share makes involvement in change easy.

How do they do it? Participating restaurants agree to donate a "small share" of every sale made using the Small Share app. In addition to benefitting from newfound exposure as a philanthropic enterprise, restaurant partners will also receive advanced analytics for loyalty and demographic tracking, a service that would otherwise cost significantly more through other vendors. Individuals using the Small Share app will benefit by easily identifying participating restaurants, paying for their purchases, learning about hunger initiatives and volunteer opportunities through a monthly newsletter, and tracking their impact.

Small Share's approach was brought to life not by venture capitalists or seasoned nonprofit leaders, but by five young professionals from The Advisory Board Company, a technology, research and consulting firm headquartered in D.C. They were responding to the company's first Community Impact Innovation Challenge, a competition launched this spring designed to encourage employees to volunteer their time and come up with ways to improve communities.

To learn more about Small Share, contact Whitney Akers at SmallShareDC@gmail.com.

BUSINESS DOING GOOD
As a corporate citizenship professional at Blackbaud, Rachel Hutchisson realized that there aren't a lot of resources for small-to-mid-sized businesses. So she launched Business Doing Good, a free web resource for the rest of the business world, for those who might be informed by what "the big guys" are doing but need how-to advice about building programs at the smaller businesses that millions of people work at every day.

Rachel provides practical, actionable advice that helps engage employees, helps the community, and builds upon the value of the business brand. This program is unique in that it offers business leaders and ambitious employees alike a road map for how to do good. At any time in the conversation, if you have something to say, an idea to share, an opinion to express, a business you think should be profiled, you're invited to chime in. You can do so by leaving a comment on the blog at www.BusinessDoingGood.com.

Have you seen pro bono efforts in your workplace make a difference for a nonprofit organization? Do you know of an organization that has benefitted from skills-based volunteering? If so, please share with us!

Looking for another way to get involved? The Case Foundation is also featuring A Billion+Change as a partner in The 5 Giving Tuesdays campaign--the Foundation's celebration of giving this holiday season. Join in on the giving cheer and help us to award $100,000 in grants and prizes! New prizes are up for grabs each week so enter today for your chance to win!