Professionals FAQ

What is Social Purpose Works (SPW)?

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

What is the service offered by SPW?

SPW recruits professionals willing to apply expertise on short-term, high-impact capacity building projects. Nonprofits with unmet capacity needs define projects and pay a modest project recruitment fee to SPW to identify qualified, interested professional candidates for a potential match to the nonprofit project. Occasionally, match funds are available to cover part or all of a project placement.

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. Browse — Browse projects ranging from a few hours to up to 500 hours. 

  2. Join the CommunityRegister with SPW and create your profile to identify your interests/experience and availability.

  3. One-time Orientation — Read our orientation material (provided after you register) to help you with the transition to a nonprofit assignment.

  4. Interview — All placements require a one-time interview with SPW via phone, skype or in-person, to determine a fit for this type of “skill-based volunteerism”.  If selected as a placement candidate, then interviews with the hosting nonprofit will be scheduled. 

  5. Match Based on the outcome of the interviews, a match can be made, if you and the 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?

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 are reviewing a posted project, there will be an "Express Interest" button you can select that will walk you through the process.  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 20 minutes.

Orientation goals:

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

  2. Become familiar with how nonprofits operate.

  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, address, contact info, areas of experience and expertise, desired project attributes, availability, and references.

  2. Your acknowledgement of our SPW Service Agreement.

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

  4. Your resume.

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.