Image for spinner

Professionals FAQ

What is Social Purpose Works (SPW)?

SPW recruits highly skilled, pro bono professionals willing to apply expertise on short-term, high-impact capacity building projects for nonprofits across Oregon and SW Washington. Nonprofits with unmet capacity needs work with SPW to define projects and pay a modest project recruitment fee to SPW to identify and thoroughly vet qualified, interested professional candidates for a potential match to the nonprofit project. Because of the mission-critical nature of these strategic projects, SPW vets candidates as if they are applying for a job.

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."   

What is a Pro Bono Professional?

Volunteers come in many stripes.  Some want to provide direct service to nonprofit programs or constituents.  Often, a 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! They provide their expertise with no expectation of being financially compensated.

How are Pro Bono Professionals vetted for project assignments?

We require registration, resume, interview, basic criminal background check and reference checks to qualify you for placement in projects. You also complete a required orientation that familiarizes you 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?

SPW projects are short term (20-500 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 encore movement specializing in the full spectrum of second 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.

How does this service work?

Nonprofits contact SPW with a project request.  After a thorough vetting of their project, we post it for your review.  It’s easy to get started. Simply:

  1. BrowseBrowse projects ranging from a few hours to up to 500 hours.

  2. Join the CommunityRegister with SPW and create your profile. Once you complete your profile, you're set to express interest in an SPW project.

  3. One-time Orientation — Read our orientation material (provided after you register). You'll find helpful information about volunteering in a nonprofit assignment, a Cultural Humility primer, and a growing, curated online library with diversity, equity and inclusion resources.

  4. Interview — All placements require a one-time initial interview with SPW via phone call or virtual meeting to determine a fit for this type of skill-based volunteerism.  If selected as a candidate, your profile will be sent to the nonprofit and you'll have the opportunity to interview with them. SPW sends between 1-4 candidates per project to the nonprofit for consideration.

  5. Match — Based on the outcome of the interviews, a match can be made if you and the nonprofit host are in agreement. Once a match is made, you’ll create your project plan and get down to business.

What capacity building projects are possible?

Capacity building projects can launch a nonprofit forward and faster toward its goals. SPW works with nonprofits to customize projects to their particular needs. 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

What projects are now available for assignment?

We review all new projects as soon as a nonprofit submits their project and we approve it for posting.  Click here for a list of all projects we’re currently recruiting for.

How do I show interest in a particular project?

Once you have registered and completed your profile, review our posted projects that capture your attention. At the bottom of the project description, click the green "Express Interest" button. Once we receive your interest request, we’ll contact you and discuss next steps.

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 worldviews 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 take about 30 minutes. SPW worked with a national partner to create a professional development Cultural Humility primer in the form of a self-paced video series as well as develop an online, growing diversity, equity and inclusion resource library. Once you are registered, you can log in and access this information anytime.

Orientation goals:

  1. Determine if a nonprofit project is the right fit for you at this time.

  2. Become familiar with how nonprofits operate and cultural humility principles

  3. Internalize the cultural differences between for profit and nonprofit.

  4. Move forward with the registration process and placement requirements.

  5. Interview for a project(s).

  6. Understand and accept the terms and conditions for placement.

  7. Prepare to start a project.

What information is needed to register as a pro bono professional?  

You’ll be completing and/or submitting these items online:

  1. Registration form with your basic information—name, contact info, areas of experience and expertise, desired project attributes, availability, and references.

  2. Your acknowledgment of our SPW Service Agreement.

  3. Criminal background check (required after you express interest in a project).

  4. Your resume or LinkedIn profile.

What compensation is offered for a project?

There is no compensation. Pro bono means for free, but it doesn’t mean unimportant.

Who is the contact for questions about this service?

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

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

Common Messages