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What is Social Purpose Works (SPW)?

Realizing that the biggest generation is moving toward retirement or pivoting to new careers, MFS started Social Purpose Works to harness this incredible human resource; a generation (baby boomers) that wants to use their professional skills on small, short term projects and make a difference for nonprofits across Oregon and SW Washington.

What is the service offered by Social Purpose Works?

Social Purpose Works recruits professionals willing to apply their expertise on short-term, high-impact capacity building projects. Nonprofits with unmet capacity needs define projects and contract with SPW to identify qualified, interested professional candidates for a potential match to the projects.

What is capacity building?

We like this definition from the National Council of Nonprofits:

“Capacity building is whatever is needed to bring a nonprofit to the next level of operational, programmatic, financial, or organizational maturity, so it may more effectively and efficiently advance its mission into the future. Capacity building is not a one-time effort to improve short-term effectiveness, but a continuous improvement strategy toward the creation of a sustainable and effective organization."   

How much does this service cost?

We know that every dollar matters in meeting a nonprofit’s mission goals. Our Flat Fee of $2500 for recruitment, pre-screening, matching and placement has no hourly add-ons. The flat fee covers our overhead to recruit, match and place the right pro bono professional for your project. None of the fee is given to the Pro Bono Professional. The fee is divided into payments, the first upon project posting. Occasionally, match funds are available to cover some of or the full cost of a project.

What is a Pro Bono Professional?

Volunteers come in many stripes.  Some want to provide direct service to your programs or constituents.  The professionally skilled volunteer wants to work on short term, high impact projects that leverage the career skills they’ve developed over a lifetime.  They can tackle creating marketing materials; improving a financial report; revising HR policies; updating strategic plans…and so much more!

How are Pro Bono Professionals vetted for project assignments?

We require applications, resumes, interviews, criminal background checks, and reference checks to qualify them for placement in projects. They also complete a required training that familiarizes them with nonprofits and what to expect when making the transition from corporate/business life to this new sector. We also recruit former nonprofit professionals who are very familiar with what it takes to be successful in a nonprofit setting.

How is this service different from the Encore Fellows program?

Social Purpose Works projects are short term (up to 500 hours, averaging 130-150 hours) and complement the Encore Fellows program administered by Social Venture Partners (SVP) here in Portland where professionally skilled citizens can provide their services in 1000 hour projects. SPW and SVP are partners in the movement specializing in the full spectrum of acts for the greater good.  Professionally skilled volunteers can find their niche in either or both of these programs. Click here for a more detailed comparison of the two programs.

What capacity building projects are possible?

These broad categories of project topics are the starting point:

  1. Accounting, Finance, & Operations

  2. Strategic Planning

  3. Marketing & PR

  4. Technology (Software, Database, IT)

  5. Fundraising & Development

  6. Volunteer Engagement

  7. Human Resources

  8. Impact & Outcome

You can also download our Project Category Detail Guide that expands upon each of the above categories and suggests what skill sets are needed to do a project.

With all the project possibilities, how do I choose and prioritize?

After registering, the SPW director will speak with you and help prioritize your organization's needs. You'll also have access to a tool that will help you assess the need for capacity building in your organization. Several organizations have done multiple capacity projects with SPW.

What does it take to use this service?

It’s easy to get going with these simple steps:

  1. Create an online organization profile by registering.

  2. We will contact you to discuss your project needs and offer help with refining your project.

  3. Agree to the contract, payment and privacy terms.*

  4. Complete a brief, online, one-time-only orientation.

  5. Complete your project description.

  6. We’ll post your project.

  7. We will provide you with pre-screened, qualified interested Pro Bono Professionals for you to interview and consider.

  8. Move forward with your match and see results!

Our user friendly website makes it easy to register, create project descriptions, and find important information about the SPW service.
*Occasionally, match funds are available to cover some of or the full cost of a project.

What are the contract terms?  

In order to have your project posted on our website, a contract needs to be signed and on file with Social Purpose Works.  Once you register, we will send you a contract to review the detailed terms and conditions.

What is the one-time orientation requirement?

We know from experience that a good relationship between a Pro Bono Professional and nonprofit staff is possible when all parties know what to expect and can create a bridge to understanding the unique world views they bring to a project. This training was designed to dispel stereotypes and offer suggested ways to create unity around project deliverables and appreciation for the different work styles.  This online orientation will be available to you after registration and will take about 20 minutes to review.

What help is available for writing a project description?

There are three ways for you to complete your Project Description:

  1. Use one of our ready-to-go descriptions found on our website. We’ve selected very common projects and created one page descriptions. You can use these as-is or edit them. Click here for those samples.

  2. We also provide a template and instructions to help you organize and complete your own custom description (available after you register).

  3. You can purchase our Match Plus service and we’ll write the project description for you following an interview with you to narrow the focus and understand your desired outcomes. You provide editorial review before it goes live.

In all cases, SPW will help refine your project description before posting to help ensure it attracts the best talent.

What is Match Plus?

The $2500 recruitment fee assumes you will create your own project description using the tools and templates provided on our site after you register. If you would prefer that we compose your project description for you, request our Match Plus service for an additional $300*. It’s an efficient process of interviewing you, gathering background information and crafting the description. Once drafted, you’ll provide editorial review so it reflects your expectations before it goes live. So, you have 2 options: do-it-yourself project description or hire us to do it for an additional $300. *Occasionally, limited match funds are available to cover this cost.

What happens if the Pro Bono Professional doesn’t work out?

We guarantee your satisfaction. Social Purpose Works will offer to initiate another search OR (if applicable) refund 75% of the search fee paid if either of the following conditions occur: 

  1. You reject all qualified candidates.

  2. You determine the candidate’s performance is unacceptable within the first 10 hours of their work on the project.

Who is the contact for questions about this service?

Monica Wirtz is the director of this service. Click here to contact her. She'll respond to you promptly.


Metropolitan Family Service has been a part of the community since 1950. MFS delivers social services to Oregon and SW Washington citizens. MFS programs support children, families, and older adults from all walks of life with most helping those who are facing cultural or economic barriers. Their mission is to help people move beyond the limitations of poverty, inequity and social isolation.