By: Danielle Holly, CEO for Common Impact;

Virtual Skills-Based Volunteering: Accelerating recovery from COVID-19

The State of the Social Sector

COVID-19 has created unprecedented health and financial upheavals across the country. Nonprofits are stepping up with determination, selflessness and creativity, many of them providing essential services for those who are hardest hit and have access to the fewest resources – young and old, disabled, ill, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQI and those living in poverty. But those same nonprofits are beleaguered by the combination of increased need, decreased funding, reduced staff and volunteers and ever-changing health and safety guidance. Most are struggling to continue their traditional programs and services, particularly small- and medium-sized community-based nonprofits.

Right now, many nonprofits are at a crossroads. There is an immediate need for financial and other resources, but even if they sustain themselves through the near-term crisis, the long-term strain and continuing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic will impede their ability to pay rent, make payroll and continue fulfilling their missions.

Nonprofits need new strategies for delivering services, financial sustainability, crisis communications, technology and human resources. Without them, many vital nonprofits will not survive. In turn, the communities they serve will suffer even greater consequences.

Virtual Volunteering: An Immediate Solution  

This is where skills-based volunteering comes in. Professionals can bring their expertise in technology, HR, finance, marketing, operations and more to nonprofits to rebuild, reinforce and reimagine their capacity to do good.

Common Impact is highlighting virtual volunteering as a safe way for nonprofits and corporate volunteers to collaborate. Skills-based volunteering is well suited to the virtual environment, where it can take many different forms depending on a nonprofit’s needs and how much time they have. Virtual volunteering models include the virtual day of service, virtual team consulting, virtual education and hotline.

Since these projects take place remotely, they have the added benefit of being location agnostic. This means nonprofits can access a wider pool of talent to gain the exact support they need and volunteers have more opportunities to work with nonprofits that align with their expertise, personal missions and interests.

Skilled Volunteer Hotline

Nonprofits already had limited time and resources to invest in their operations, so when COVID-19 hit, we at Common Impact knew it was more essential than ever to ease access to virtual pro bono. We launched a hotline model designed to connect nonprofit executives to corporate professionals in brief, high-impact conversations that address their most pressing needs on an accelerated timeline. When time is at a premium for both nonprofits and volunteers, the hotlines offer rapid response support for crisis situations or a quick injection of advice in areas like finance, technology, crisis communications and risk management at critical moments.

If you are interested in the skilled volunteer hotline or know a nonprofit executive who might be, simply fill out this 7-minute survey on what kind of support you’re looking for.

Looking Ahead

As we transition from the relief to recovery, nonprofits will begin reshaping and restructuring their operating models in a more intentional way compared to the immediate, reactionary responses they’ve needed to take up to this point. When this time comes, skilled volunteers will continue to be crucial to nonprofits for their expertise and experiences in operational realignment, contingency planning, stakeholder engagement and more.

To businesses and corporate professionals, we encourage you to make a difference during this difficult time by sharing your skills with the nonprofits that are providing essential resources and services to our community members who need them most. Visit   to learn more about skills-based volunteering and check out these resources to learn how you can get started today.


Danielle Holly, CEO for Common Impact

Danielle Holly is dedicated to creating previously unseen pathways for individuals to meaningfully contribute to making their communities thrive. She is the CEO of Common Impact, an organization that brings companies and social change organizations together to create meaningful change through skilled volunteerism. Recently recognized in BuzzFeed for one of the “30 Big Ideas that Can Change the World,” Danielle has led the social sector movement to channel individual talents and superpowers as a force for good. For the past 13 years, she has helped Fortune 100 companies shape their community engagement and investment programs, supported nonprofits in effectively leveraging service for strategic ends and built the industry-leading tools that enable companies and nonprofits to work together effectively. In addition, she hosts Pro Bono Perspectives, a popular podcast currently in its second season that highlights the careers of cross-sector leaders.

Danielle is a contributing writer for Nonprofit Quarterly and has been featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review. She is a member of the NationSwell Council and serves on the Board of Directors for Women in Innovation and Fan4Kids. Danielle has presented at major industry conferences including 3BL Forum, bbcon, the Points of Light National Conference on Volunteering and Service and Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Nonprofit Management Institute. Twitter: @dholly8