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Today I’m talking with Danielle Holly, CEO of Common Impact, which focuses on connecting corporations and companies with nonprofit organizations.
The core mission behind Common Impact is to tap into the superpowers that each of us has as individuals and to channel them for social good. The primary way we do that is by working with companies to get their employees into pro-bono skills-based volunteer projects. The idea came from the legal profession where pro-bono is really popular.
How did you originally get started?
It was completely unintentional. I graduated with a journalism and marketing degree right after 9/11 and I was headed into a career into ABC News and then all media had a complete hiring freeze so I couldn’t get a job there or anywhere. By chance, I landed at the New York Stock Exchange on the floor, which ended up being a really cool job that ended up giving me a completely fresh perspective on how the world works. It was a front-row seat to how decisions were being made and also the power that that institution had over the way our resources are directed. Being in my 20s, I had a lot more disposable time, so I started volunteering with various nonprofits, helping them with financial plans.
What is skills-based volunteerism?
It’s the basic idea of providing your time and skills as a service to nonprofit companies and initiatives; skills and experience that we already have and don’t have to be trained on and use in our daily lives. This is how Common Impact got started. We all know that most nonprofits are sorely underfunded, and a lot of time don’t have the resources to direct to critical functions like talent management, strategic planning, financial structures, etc.
Once someone gives of their skills, what happens?
One is the level of engagement you get from the individuals who are volunteering. They are excited about working for their chosen nonprofit, but there is something very human that happens when you are giving something that is unique.
What are you seeing that’s working really well in nonprofits?
When people and partners get that there is a mutual benefit to coming together, it embodies everything that is going right, right now in cross-sector partnerships. There’s really a partnership versus a funding relationship and dynamic; not a program-funder, but a problem-solver.
How can someone get involved with Common Impact?
You can go to commonimpact.org or @commonimpact on all social media platforms. We work with institutions of every size and sector and help them develop a program that best matches their needs.
What projects are you currently working on right now that excites you?
We just launched a disaster resiliency report called Disaster Response – From Relief to Resiliency – I’m definitely not excited about disasters, but this is an area where organizations are very willing to help meet the needs of their communities, and we help them discover how they can shift their resources to help communities weather a “disaster” when it comes.
Skills-based volunteerism always seems more intimidating than it actually is. Please reach out and take the first step in thinking about pro-bono and how the talents and expertise that are either in your network or not yet in your network can do for you. If used well, it can be even stronger than cash.
Connect with Danielle and Common Impact:
Connect with Mary: