< Back To All

Preparing for Pro Bono: Is Your NGO Ready to Utilize This Resource?

Shivani Kokkonda

How do you know if you can engage and gain from the contribution of pro bono? Or when do you consider prepared to take help? And how can you welcome your pro bono consultants? These are a few questions that linger when trying to decide whether you are ready or not. 

How do you know if you can engage and gain from the contribution of pro bono? Or when do you consider prepared to take help? And how can you welcome your pro bono consultants? These are a few questions that linger when trying to decide whether you are ready or not. 

In 2009, Deloitte conducted a survey which revealed that 72 per cent of nonprofits strongly believed that skills-based volunteers would significantly enhance their effectiveness. However, approximately 25 per cent of these organizations stated that they did not intend to involve skills-based volunteers. One of the many reasons for this lack of preparedness. 

Here are a few ways to help you utilize the benefits of pro bono and prepare you to welcome them. 

(I) The Expectation: Pro bono consultants voluntarily offer their time and expertise to work for your cause. It is crucial to recognize that they may have specific expectations before committing to your organization. To understand their expectations, it's essential to put yourself in their shoes and ask, "If I were starting to work for a new organization, what assistance, guidance, and support would I anticipate from them?" Some of the common expectations could be:

  1. The point of contact: See if the consultant's project requires them to contact multiple stakeholders. If yes, designate someone from your organization as a POC. The POC can then relay the information to other stakeholders, streamlining communication and enhancing productivity.
  2. The end goal: Defining the end goal is a crucial step in project management as it provides a clear direction and purpose for the project team to work towards. It helps keep everyone focused, motivated, and on track to ensure successful project completion. This will also help you and the consultant to be on the same page at all times. 
  3. Access to resources: This is the first time the pro bono consultant is interacting with your organization. They would have less understanding of vision, mission, and other organizational details than you do. For the successful completion of the project, it is crucial for the consultant to truly understand these aspects. Preparing a document with your vision, mission statements, and additional resources to complete the project is better. 

(II) The Need: Now that you know what possible expectations pro bono consultants have, it is time to understand the need for consultants. This is an in-depth discussion the stakeholders need to have. Some questions to ponder upon:

  1. What kind of project do we want help from pro bono consultants? Is it an on-ground or online project? Is it a long-term or short-term project? 
  2. What are the benefits of engaging pro bono consultants, and how can they help the organization achieve its goals?
  3.  Do we have the bandwidth to engage and support the consultant during the project? And do we have enough resources for the same? 
  4. What are the potential drawbacks or risks of engaging pro bono consultants, and how can the organization mitigate them?
  5. What are the roles and responsibilities of the NGO and the pro bono consultants, and how will they work together to ensure successful project completion? And can we fulfil those roles and responsibilities alongside the regular work?

After you have considered and gained clarity on these questions, you will better understand whether you are ready to engage pro bono consultants currently and if you need their assistance. Additionally, these questions will aid in preparing for the arrival of the pro bono consultants if you decide to proceed with their engagement.

(III) The Preparation: Now that the decision has been made, you need to prepare the organization for onboarding the pro bono consultant. As much as the first meet and greet call is essential, preparation should continue beyond there. Some of the key steps to consider are:

  1. Define project scope and goals: Clearly define the scope of the project and the expected outcomes. Ensure the goals align with the organization's mission and strategic objectives.
  2. Develop a project plan: Develop a detailed project plan that includes project milestones, timelines, deliverables, and resources required to complete the project successfully. You could do this with the consultant, but you need to take the lead. 
  3. Establish communication protocols: Establish clear communication protocols between the project team, the pro bono consultant, and other stakeholders. Set regular meeting schedules, establish communication channels, and define reporting requirements. Since the consultants work in their free time, it is better if their time preference is given more importance in meetings, etc. Maybe scheduling meetings during weekends, after office hours. 
  4. Orientation and support: Provide orientation and training to the pro bono consultant regarding the organization's culture, values, and operating procedures. Offer ongoing support and feedback to ensure their success and satisfaction. And create a pipeline to implement their feedback as well.


Here is an additional resource to clarify if you are ready to engage pro bono consultants. 

NGOs have the potential to achieve significant impact with the help of pro bono consultants. However, to ensure successful engagement and maximum benefit, it's essential to understand the expectations, needs, and preparation required. 

By answering the critical questions discussed and following the steps mentioned, NGOs can effectively utilize the skills and expertise of pro bono consultants to advance their mission and achieve their goals.

Are you ready to have pro bono? It's time to take action and explore this valuable resource for your organization's success. Sign up here to get your pro bono consultants!