The rewards of doing good span the personal and the professional for both social entrepreneurs, who have dedicated their lives to solving complex social problems in new ways, and business leaders, who contribute their skills and services pro bono to causes that are deeply meaningful to them.
Traditional Corporate Social Responsibility programs tend to model pro bono projects that are one-sided, with business professionals offering a discrete set of services to nonprofit leaders.
Ashoka and thought leaders on volunteerism like the Taproot Foundation are working to evolve the traditional model of pro bono service. This research study explores methods for fostering win-win collaborative work between social entrepreneurs and business professionals. The mindsets, skills, sectoral and customer knowledge, and operational approaches that guide the work of business professionals and social entrepreneurs are uniquely well aligned to form mutually beneficial and transformative partnerships.
Some recommendations to move in this direction:
Introduce business professionals to the real needs of social entrepreneurs to unlock hidden demand for impactful work: Design corporate programs that center the needs of social entrepreneurs so that business professionals accustomed to the traditional prescription of work and volunteering as separate activities have the opportunity to develop an appetite for pursuing social impact as part of their jobs.
Design pro bono programs that tie into the core operations of a business: Match social entrepreneurs with companies working in relevant fields to unlock possibilities for shifting the meaning of work from financial gain to social impact.
Structure time commitments to meet the needs of both parties: Structure pro bono programs so that a rotating team of business professionals works sequentially to deliver high- quality support to a social entrepreneur over the long-term.