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A Billion + Change: America's Businesses Step Up

by Wendy Spencer

Imagine what would happen if the marketing experts behind your favorite Super Bowl ad developed a campaign to help a nonprofit recruit volunteers or raise awareness of an important national issue. Or if the engineers at a leading technology company volunteered as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) tutors at a local school.

We could bring the unmatched skills and expertise of America's business professionals to some of our nation's most pressing problems. And we could build the capacity of nonprofits to meet critical social needs, at a time when resources are scarce.

This is exactly what is happening through A Billion + Change, a national campaign to mobilize billions of dollars of pro bono and skills-based volunteer services from the business community by 2013.

Last week at a Forum on the future of corporate service, I heard first-hand from some of the companies at the vanguard of this movement: a large, multinational technology company that leverages hundreds of thousands of employees in locations across the country and around the world to address local challenges; a business consulting firm that brings the professional skills of its employees to nonprofits that could use them most; a leader in the hospitality industry that taps its expert workforce of chefs, concierges and others to coach at-risk young people on real-world skills.

And in the process of doing good, these companies do well – attracting, developing, and retaining the best talent through skills-based volunteer programs.

More and more businesses are catching on to the power of pro bono service. In less than a year, nearly 200 companies have joined A Billion + Change and have pledged an estimated $1.8 billion worth of skills-based services to build nonprofit capacity.

Traditional ways of volunteering such as serving meals at the nearest homeless shelter or giving the neighborhood youth center a fresh coat of paint will always be welcomed. Corporate Days of Service give a great boost to nonprofits, as well as employee morale. But pro bono and skills-based volunteering is a way that businesses and employees can make the greatest impact, simply by doing what they do best.

The same companies and workers that make America an economic superpower can make it a civic superpower. The same skills that help businesses survive and thrive, can help nonprofits run smarter, more efficiently, and achieve better outcomes.

Today's challenges demand an ‘all-of-the-above' solution, where the public, private and nonprofit sectors collaborate more than ever before. Through pro bono service and skills-based volunteering programs, many of the nation's leading businesses are stepping up to help.

Will you?

Visit www.abillionpluschange.org for more information and to take the pledge.

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