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Skills-Based Volunteerism, Part 2: Functional Coaching and Mentoring

Skillful & Knowledgeable Volunteers

Functional Coaching and Mentoring

Function coaching and mentoring can be defined as a for-profit business lending its employees to mentor and teach nonprofit partners essential skills and functional expertise. Does your company have individuals with expertise in change management, leadership development, or simply a knack for motivating others? If so, Functional Coaching and Mentoring may be an ideal route to go with for a Skills-Based Volunteering (SBV) program.

Functional Coaching and Mentoring Programs can focus on things like:

  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Transformational leadership
  • Change management
  • Assessing and utilizing organization/community assets
  • Strengths-based leadership
  • Working in groups and teams

The examples below show how businesses can provide coaching and mentoring to nonprofit partners, leaders of change, or groups that do mission-driven work.

Gap Inc. Leadership Initiative

In 2009, Gap launched their Gap Inc. Leadership Initiative, partnering with 25 nonprofit organizations each year to help leaders at these organizations learn skills to better manage their limited resources and manpower, and leverage their assets to create the most significant benefits for the communities they serve. Nonprofit leaders benefit from intensive learning workshops focused on a variety of things to increase partner skills, capacities, and effectiveness. Examples include: visionary leadership, staff development, and change management.

The mentoring Gap provides to its community partners is based on the leadership tools originally designed for training Gap Inc. executives. Their program is unique in that the mentoring provided is adapted to fit the needs of each individual community partner. "Moreover, the continuous nature of the relationships built between Gap Inc. leaders and the nonprofit program participants allows for a constant exchange of information and ideas in the context of a formal program" (Making Pro-Bono Work: 8 Proven Models for Community and Business Impact).

New York Needs You: Career Coaches

You do not have to create a program to get your employees involved in skills-based volunteering; there are many organizations that already employ volunteers for their specific skills, knowledge, and areas of expertise. New York Needs You (NYNY) offers a career-coaching program for college students across the city. Their "Fellow's Program Saturday Workshops" are a series of workshops where volunteer career coaches (professionals from a variety of disciplines and professional backgrounds) lead a structured career development curriculum for "Fellows," all first-generation college students.

Another opportunity for professionals to lend their specific knowledge and skills is through the Career Development Program (CDP) "Industry Insiders" Weeknight Seminars, where Career Coaches can teach students from community colleges about various routes to starting and securing a professional job and building a successful career. NYNY even offers their volunteers opportunities to contribute to young-adults professional development, without leaving the comfort of their homes. For their Technology Initiative's Online Program, "Career Coaches are part of an online pilot program to virtually help students with internship/job searches, resume review, and mock interviews" ("What is a Career Coach?").