Infrastructure is sexy. It helps an organization achieve its goals. It should be easy to get access to the resources you need to perform these functions. But over half of nonprofits—the organizations charged with solving society’s greatest challenges—report that they don’t have the resources they need to meet their clients’ needs. Taproot Foundation is committed to changing that.
Taproot is creating a world where organizations dedicated to social change have full access—through pro bono service—to the marketing, strategy, HR, and technology resources they need to be most effective. Through 16 years of service, we’ve strengthened over 4,600 organizations by channeling $170M in pro bono support.
With a front-line view of nonprofit challenges, we’re eager to share what we’ve learned about nonprofit capacity building.
Every day we see the challenges facing nonprofits and how these needs evolve in response to our communities’ struggles.
For example, the social sector is prone to swings in available resources, including talent. Changes in the economy and job markets affect the availability of professional expertise. In 2008, Taproot saw a swell of interested volunteers. That number dropped back to “normal” in 2012 when the job market rebounded. Similarly, changes in the public’s sentiment about civic engagement affect volunteers’ interest; and recently we’ve seen an increase in volunteers with an urgency to act and give back. Absorbing these swings in resources is tricky for nonprofits.
Changes in the social landscape also can rapidly change the kind of support nonprofits’ constituents need or can create new organizational challenges. For instance, many social justice organizations are turning their attention to the security and privacy of their data, given the rise in opposition attacks among these groups. This outside influence is making many nonprofits stretch to prioritize their digital security and health over existing needs in core operations.
In upcoming blogs, we’ll dissect two challenges facing many nonprofits: technology and leadership.
We’ll highlight needs that are too often under-supported in the philanthropic community, and we’ll recommend ways lean funders can make small investments with amplifier effects. We share these insights in the hopes that all stakeholders can better channel resources, including pro bono service, to strengthen the infrastructure nonprofits need to succeed.
Ava Kuhlen connects people and resources for social impact. Specializing in nonprofit capacity building, philanthropic advising, and corporate social responsibility, she’s written on topics like diversity & inclusion, technology product donations, and leadership development. As Director of External Relations she draws from Taproot’s knowledge to surface insights that further the field of pro bono service.