If you’ve been following our content this year, you’ve likely heard us mention a concept called “The Knitting Factor,” which brings together three key conditions that enable skills-based engagements between the private and nonprofit sectors to create strengthened, sustainable solutions that don’t come undone when partners part ways. There are three key characteristics that make up The Knitting Factor, but for skills-based volunteering to become truly transformative, organizations need to find the “sticky” relationships that enable companies and nonprofits to drive progress on both mission and business-related goals.
Over the first half of this year, we have been exploring the key ingredient to successful and sustainable partnerships. We found that it ultimately comes back to one thing – people. Some of our favorite partnerships between companies and nonprofits are those that nurture a culture of pro bono beyond transactional engagements to lay the foundation for deep personal and professional investment in an issue area, region or cause.
Here are a few initiatives that demonstrate how grounding your relationship in your people can create the greatest impact for both companies and nonprofits:
Common Impact’s partner, JPMorgan Chase is dedicated to developing long-term partnerships with their grantee organizations. A team of JPMorgan Chase employee volunteers recently wrapped a project with PeopleFund, a Texas-based nonprofit whose mission is to create economic opportunity and financial stability for underserved people by providing access to capital, education and resources to build healthy small businesses. Their ultimate goal is to ensure that underserved entrepreneurs have economic mobility through capital and education.
- Currently, the veteran population is an area of focus for the organization and with support from JPMorgan Chase employees they are creating a collaborative that will aim to increase leveraged funding opportunities, quality of technical assistance, and geographic scope of veteran small business lending across the US. In order to foster continued collaborative growth, Common Impact facilitated a project with PeopleFund and JPMorgan Chase employee volunteers to better understand the landscape of CDFI lenders in the US that are working with veterans, and receive support in assessing which organizations are best qualified to be future invitees to the collaborative.
State Street and Common Impact are partnering to provide capacity building support to the Boston WINs organizations through skills-based volunteering. As the signature program of State Street Foundation, Boston Workforce Investment Network (Boston WINs) is a multi-year, $20 million venture philanthropy initiative led by State Street Foundation in partnership with five high-performing non-profits designed to accelerate college and career readiness for Boston youth. Through these three to four-month engagements, State Street employees will develop and hone their skillsets by working closely with the WINs organizations to directly address capacity building challenges in functional areas ranging from human resources to business development.
- We recently kicked off our first project with Bottom Line, an organization that equips low-income and first-generation-to-college students with the skills to navigate to, and through, higher education into a career path. Through this project, a team of State Street volunteers are assessing Bottom Line’s current change management processes and have identified employee engagement and communication as two key focus areas for the organization. The team is currently working with Bottom Line’s leadership to determine updated processes that will support them in sharing information in an effective and transparent way.
Seeking to deepen its investment in its signature nonprofit partners, Charles Schwab partnered with Common Impact to launch new initiative following the 2017 Pro Bono Challenge in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America. We compiled the deliverables that Charles Schwab volunteers completed with participating Boys & Girls Club affiliates during the Pro Bono Challenge event and assembled the resources into a virtual playbook that was ultimately shared with the full Boys & Girls Club network of 4,000+ organizations. The projects aligned with Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national strategic plan, Greater Futures 2025, and support local clubs across the country to make headway on the national strategy.