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By Amanda MacArthur and Alicia Bonner Ness

August 2014
Corporate Global Pro Bono:
The State of the Practice
The State of the Practice | August 2014
PYXERA Global The New Frontier of Global Engagement | 2
Over the past fve years, PYXERA Global has conducted an annual benchmarking sur-
vey of the state of the practice of Global Pro Bono or International Corporate Vol-
unteerism. This research has sought to lend structure, insight, and direction to this
growing practice.
This years study has revealed three key trends that are of particular note:
1. Interest in cross-corporate collaboration
2. Exploration of efective quantitative measurement
3. Emphasis on efective stories of impact
Perhaps the most exciting is the growing interest in cross-corporate collaborations to
address specifc global challenges. At PYXERA Global we are especially excited about
this trend, because it opens the door to more people developing more comprehensive
solutions, meeting the needs of diferent geographies and more complex challenges.
IBM, a pioneer in nearly every aspect of this practice, not only felds the single larg-
est program (in terms of participants, value, and geographic span), but is also leading
the way in impactful collaboration, generously sharing their experience, encouraging
other companies to join, and enabling opportunities for cross-corporate, cross-sector
collaborations with increasingly tangible results.
As of this writing, a team of 41 Dow employees have just completed what many of
them have described as a life-changing week, working with local clients in Addis Aba-
ba, Ethiopia. IBM strategically felded a team at the same time, resulting in a highly
synergistic collaboration supporting the International Medical Corps.
Another trend is the growing importance of quantitative measurement, not just of the
impact on participants, but also of the impact on the clients and communities in which
they operate. Though there is still work to do in order to standardize measurement
across programs and companies, we are pleased to see a growing emphasis on ensur-
ing meaningful impact and sustainability.
As global pro bono programs mature, they are increasingly visible at the highest levels
of corporate management. Whether it is SAP CEO Bill McDermott tweeting about their
Social Sabbatical program or Andrew Liveris of Dow mentioning their Leadership in
Action program on a panel discussion moderated by Bill Clinton at the 2014 US-Africa
Business Forum, the visibility of these programs is evident. Companies recognize the
need for their employees to be culturally competent, not just in Europe and Japan, but
in Ethiopia, Colombia, and Cambodia, countries that are achieving new importance as
the markets of the future.
Finally, another critical diference over previous years is the way that companies are
telling the stories of their programs impact, increasingly asking their participating em-
ployees to blog, tweet, and otherwise communicate about their experiences frsthand.
These stories demonstrate the deeply personal impact that an experience working in
an emerging market has on the business leaders of tomorrow, who emerge from their
experiences with greater awareness of the vast, untapped opportunities and perhaps
not quite so daunted by the challenges that exist in these markets.
I am excited by what the future holdswe have never had such a variety of sectors
represented, so many diferent program models being implemented, and such excite-
ment for the potential of these programs. I look forward to the next decade of impact
that is just waiting to be realized.
Amanda MacArthur
VP, Global Pro Bono & Engagement,
The Problem with
Global pro bono was
originally described as
international corporate
volunteering, but
some companies have
grown frustrated with
the implications of the
characterization for two
key reasons:
1. Volunteering does not
accurately capture
the talent and abilities
their participants bring
to their projects.
2. Volunteering,
especially in the United
States, has developed
a strong association
with service activities
(as opposed to utilizing
professional expertise)
targeted at the most
needy individuals
within communities.
The State of the Practice | August 2014
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In 2003, Pfzer deployed its employees into emerging mar-
kets to strengthen health systems as part of its Global Health
Fellows program. In 2008, IBM piloted the Corporate Service
Corps, a team-based pro bono model, which is now the largest
program in the world, sending an average of 500 participants
a year. To date, 3,000 IBMers from 55 countries have engaged
in more than 1,000 projects (valued at $65 million) in nearly 25
countries, impacting 140,000 people directly.
Today, a number of companies around the world leverage
their corporations talent to foster social impact, economic
growth, and leadership development in 80 countries around
the world through global pro bono programs, including the 26
that responded to our Benchmarking Survey: Accenture, BD,
Celanese, CitiCorp, Credit Suisse, The Dow Chemical Compa-
ny, Eli Lilly and Company, EY, FedEx Corporation, Google, GSK,
IBM, Intel, John Deere, JPMorgan Chase, La Caixa Foundation,
Mars, Medtronic, Merck & Co., Inc., PepsiCo, Pfzer Inc., PIMCO
Foundation, PwC, and SAP AG
More than half of those corporations surveyed (14) have
launched their programs since 2010. The following research
refects the insights and direction of these companies and their
programs as a growing community of corporate social respon-
sibility (CSR) and human resources (HR) leaders seek to create
a movement that advocates engaging human capital in emerg-
ing markets in ways that transform business, create new op-
portunities for shared value and citizen diplomacy, and enrich
lives and livelihoods around the world.
Global pro bono, or international corporate volunteerism (ICV) as it is also called, is a corporate practice growing in
popularity. This survey defnes such initiatives as those which provide cross-border, skills-based opportunities that
engage the professional skills of employees in countries in which they do not normally live or work on a regular basis.
Since 2008,
more than
have sent over
employees on
global pro bono
assignments in
countries on 5
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Pro bono program design is a critical step in program success and a number of industry trends stand out in this domain.
A clear majority of corporations align their programs to CSR, collaborate with non-proft implementing partners, and
select participants based on a specifc range of competencies.
Program Mission & Objectives
Corporations undertake global pro bono programs with a range
of motivations, including:
To increase employee satisfaction and loyalty to the com-
To generate sustainable social impact in local communities
To improve the employees leadership skills
A plurality of corporations (43%) rated the frst and third objec-
tives as the most important. Many companies aim their programs
at top-talent, specifcally targeting employees that are consistent-
ly high performers and therefore at risk for being recruited away
from the company at certain tenure points. Providing employees
with an opportunity to expand their skill sets, travel internation-
ally, and contribute to the greater good fosters deep appreciation
within program participants that often translates to efective re-
Similarly, a number of companies specifcally design their pro-
grams for leadership development. Providing top employees with
an opportunity to work in resource-constrained emerging-mar-
ket environments and in in multi-cultural, multi-expertise teams
under a tight deadline to deliver a quality product to a client, has
a profound impact on talent development.
Social impact remains the highest priority of these programs. A
majority of corporations (54%) rated the sustainable social im-
pact in local communities as their programs most important ob-
jective. Yet, it is important to observe statistically that a number
of corporations rated all three objectives as the most important,
communicating that these objectives are not mutually exclusive.
Based on these motives, a large majority of corporations (80%)
craft program mission statements that help program leaders ex-
plain the programs importance and impact. Of those with mis-
sion statements, a large number (also 80%) use their mission
statement to communicate externally about their company.
Program Management
A majority of corporations (61%) manage their programs within
the CSR or community involvement department, with a much
smaller number (14%) directing their programs from HR or the
corporate foundation. Since the 2013 survey, the number of
programs managed by the CSR function has increased nearly
10%, though many programs managed from CSR are closely
aligned with talent development and HR.
Additionally, a number of companies (64%) work with an external
implementing partner that typically has full responsibility for in-
country logistics (housing, transportation, etc.) and local client
satisfaction and impact evaluations, while shared responsibilities
7% 7%
7% 4%
To i ncrease empl oyee
sati sfacti on and l oyal ty to
the company
To generate sustai nabl e
soci al i mpact i n l ocal
communi ti es
To i mprove the empl oyees
l eadershi p ski l l s
1=least important 2 3 4 5=very important
Pro Bono Program Objectives
61% 14%
Corporate Social
Community Involvement
Human Resources
Corporate Foundation
Operations or a Business
Pro Bono Program Department Alignment
Yes, we partner with a
non-prot organization(s)
Yes, we use both non-
prot and for-prot
Yes, we partner with a for-
prot organization(s)
Do you partner with an NGO to manage your program?
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between the corporation and their implementing partner typically
include participant orientation, participant satisfaction evaluation,
travel logistics, participant training, project selection, program design,
external communication/story sharing, and project supervision.
Many companies deeply value their relationship with their implement-
ing partners. From a strategic perspective, one company reported that
their implementing partner ensured the business integration of their
They have been able to connect our strategic business priorities with
the right host clients and projects and ensure the participants have the
opportunity to have a life-changing experience.
Logistically, one company specifcally identifed their partners coordi-
nation and troubleshooting expertise.
They are excellent in arranging the organizations we work with
in-country, and experts at resolving problems.
Most companies dedicate no more than one full-time employee to
program management. One respondent noted that the right partner
made all the diference, remarking that time demanded was directly
afected by the quality of the implementing partner: Very minimal if
you have the right partner.
Participant Selection
Most corporations consider a wide range of criteria when selecting their
pro bono program participants. No criterion was universally ranked as
the most important, though a plurality (33%) did identify job function
and skills as the most important factors. A larger plurality (39%) took
into consideration the participants leadership potential, and half of all
programs placed some consideration on the language skills of the par-
ticipant. Other criteria whose results were not statistically signifcant
included management level, recognition for superior performance,
and tenure within the company.
Within their selection process, a large number of companies (85%) use
an individual application. At least half (54%) also use a personal inter-
view and essay, and require a supervisor nomination. One program
describes their application pro-
cess as an open call for applica-
tions (essays), followed by exec-
utive interview with semi-fnalists
which then determine fnalists.
In felding teams to projects
around the world, many corpora-
tions strive to make their teams
global, ensuring that no one
team is dominated by one na-
tionality. One program manager
describes their program: Its a
global program. We seek to feld
teams based on our employee
base which is 50% USA and 50%
outside of USA.
Language skills
Leadership potential
Job function/skills
1=least important 2 3 4 5=very important
ParAcipant SelecAon Criteria
To expose high performing
employees to the next
generation ways of doing
We send our most talented and
globally experienced staf to tackle
business and societal issues in the
growth markets.
To develop global leadersthrough
an immersive performance with
purpose experience that leverages
business skills that helps to
advance our global citizenship
Program Mission and High-level Goals
Internal Focus:
External Focus:
External and Internal Focus:
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Teams & Fellowships
A clear majority of corporations (67%) place employees in a team-based environment, and a plurality (44%) send participant teams
of at least 10 or more individuals from across the organization. Only a small number (11%) place individuals in fellowships embed-
ded with local organizations.
At the same time, the duration of pro bono projects varies signifcantly. A plurality of programs (40%) place participants in the feld
for between three and four weeks, while close to one third (30%) place participants in the feld for less than two weeks and an
equivalent number (30%) place participants in teams or fellowships assignments lasting from four weeks to fve months.
Participant Preparation
Almost all program participants engage in some orientation
activity prior to departing for their in-country assignment.
Pre-departure training and orientation address a wide range
of topics, though the format of orientation activities depends
heavily on program constraints, including available employ-
ee time and program funding. Almost all participants (96%)
attend an orientation course or session and a majority (63%)
attend a skills training course or session. Virtual programs
are typically module based, wherein each week, the team or
individual is required to learn about a specifc topic relevant
to their deployment. One corporation hosts a 1.5 day long
in-person training to better prepare participants for depar-
ture. Overall, companies focus on virtual training, requiring
at least one full day (8 hours) of training, and some requiring
as much as seven to eight days, which can include a combi-
nation of virtual and in-person orientation, preparation, and
training activities. Topical focus on policies and procedures
has increased since the 2013 survey, and training on safety
and security has diminished.
Companies make a number of key decisions that infuence their global pro bono program experience for participants.
1 to 5
6 to 9
10 or more
Number of parAcipants per team
Team vs. Individual Assignments
Media and communications
Alignment with corporate strategy or
business plans
Country specic information
Safety and security
Cross-cultural attitudes or behavior
Program policies and procedures
Pre-departure Training Topics
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Geographic Targets
Corporations use their pro bono pro-
grams to engage their employees for
social impact in countries around the
world. While Africa (29%) and Asia (25%)
combined represent half of the geog-
raphies targeted by these programs,
Latin America (23%) and Europe (16%)
are also important project destinations.
Together, the 26 companies surveyed
sent teams to a total of 80 countries
In alignment with the country-level
analysis, at least a third of participants
(35%) reported in this survey were de-
ployed to Africa, with just under a third
(29%) deployed to Asia and one ffth de-
ployed to Latin America.
25% 16%
South America
Central America
Middle East
North America
Pro Bono Global Reach
Companies sustain a varied level of initiatives to communicate about their programs before, during, and after participants are
deployed. Very few corporations (11%) do not have a formal plan for communication about their program. Almost all (96%) require
individuals who return from the feld to give in-person presentations about their experience to groups of prospective participants
and interested colleagues. A large majority (85%) also represent their programs internally by way of corporate newsletters and
websites and more than three quarters (77%) use social me-
dia to communicate about their program externally. While a
large majority (73%) also publish press releases and videos
about their programs, this number has diminished by 15%
since 2013. In addition, more than two thirds (69%) publish
external impact results concerning their programs in sus-
tainability reports and external blog outlets.
Many program managers report that their program enjoys a
high level of visibility within the corporation. Close to three
quarters (74%) of CEOs are aware of their companys pro-
gram and its impact, and more than half reported other
C-suite or executive-level awareness.
Success Factors
Program managers were asked to identify the top three key success factors in meeting the objectives of pro bono programs.
1. Development of professional skills
2. Partnering with an outstanding NGO
3. Project selection and design; clear and attainable objectives, with an adventure favor
Other factors that were identifed included employee volunteer selection, matching the right volunteers with the right project,
alignment with the business strategy, strong communications with the implementing partner and local client, project preparation,
team diversity, immersion, fexibility, strong networks, host organization preparation, and learning from other existing programs.
of CEOs are aware
of their companys
global pro bono pro-
grams and its im-
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A large percentage of respondents reported that local client impact, including training and building the capacity of local staf, pro-
viding local organizations with access to resources they would not otherwise have, and improving and increasing the ability of those
organizations to ofer their services to their local constituents, were either very important or most important.
Participants develop a wide range of skills through their participation in global pro bono programs. Among those skills ranked by
survey respondents, leadership development was the most important (69%) followed by a large number who identifed cultural
adaptability as very important (42%) or most important (42%). Teambuilding, professional skills, and entrepreneurship were also
important skills, which were all ranked in importance by respondents as at least somewhat important (3 out of 5).
In addition to improving the skills of participants, pro bono programs also increase employee satisfaction. A large majority of re-
spondents reported that the opportunity for employees to use professional skills in a new and diferent way (85%) and improve
cross-cultural knowledge and competencies (69%) were most important. Respondents also noted that employees benefted from
a broader network within the global company and increased visibility and potential for promotion.
Global pro bono programs are a unique
corporate investment that yield multi-
ple returns. Many program managers
often speak of the triple beneft of
global pro bono, which includes impact
on participants, local communities,
and the company. A majority (54%)
identify the social impact on local com-
munities as the most important bene-
ft of global pro bono programs, while
a plurality (41%) emphasize employee
skill development.
Local Client Impact
4% 8%
Abi l i ty to provi de
i mproved servi ces or
products to thei r l ocal
consti tuents
Access to resources
that they coul d not
otherwi se get
Trai ni ng and capaci ty
bui l di ng for the sta
1=least important 2 3 4 5=most important
ParAcipant Skills
shi p
Professi onal
ski l l s
Teambui l di ng
Cul tural
adaptabi l i ty
Leadershi p
Devel opment
1=least important 2 3 4 5=Most Important
Pro Bono Program Impact
11% 4%
I ncreasi ng empl oyee sati sfacti on
I mprovi ng the capaci ty/capabi l i ti es of
l ocal cl i ents
Devel opi ng empl oyee ski l l s (l eadershi p
devel opment, teambui l di ng,
entrepreneurshi p, etc. )
Generati ng sustai nabl e soci al i mpact i n
l ocal communi ti es
1=least important 2 3 4 5 6 7=most important
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Beyond the benefts to the local community and
participants, global pro bono programs yield a
number of returns to the company at a strategic
level. All respondents identifed better under-
standing of the opportunities and challenges
in emerging markets as somewhat important
(3 or higher) and a plurality (38%) ranked it as
the most important. Almost all (96%) recognized
increased knowledge of the operations and
business environment in emerging markets as
important, with a plurality (38%) ranking it as
somewhat important (3 out of 5).
Beyond these important insights into emerging
market dynamics, respondents also empha-
sized the way in which global pro bono pro-
grams enabled them to meet CSR and HR goals
within the company.
Corporations aross sectors, from healthcare to
chemical production, technology to logistics,
have embraced the benefts of global pro bono
within their companies. The social impact of
their programs across sectors is equally diverse.
More than half (59%) of projects focus on four
key areas: microfnance, healthcare, econom-
ic growth, and education, closely followed by
womens empowerment (9%), agriculture (7%),
and entrepreneurship (7%). Eight additional
sectors account for the remaining project focus
More than half of companies measure the
business impact (56%) and social impact (54%)
of their programs, yet many challenges still re-
main in the domain of impact measurement.
Most companies are highly reliant on qualita-
tive measurementsnamely testimonialsin
reporting the efectiveness and impact of global
pro bono within their company. For those who
are able to quantitatively measure impact, hu-
man resource statistics are often the source of
this measurement. At least a third (from 35 to
38%) quantitatively measure the programs im-
pact on career progression, employee engage-
ment, and retention and recruitment, though
this practice is far from mainstream.
Pro Bono Addresses CSR ObjecAves
4% 12%
Enhancement of the companys image
Ability to actively engage employees in the
companys CSR strategy
Substantial improvements in the welfare of
the local communities
1=least important 2 3 4 5=most important
Improved sta retention
Evidence that the company cares about the
employees and are willing to invest in them
Increased employee motivation &
1=least important 2 3 4 5=most important
Pro Bono Addresses HR ObjecAves
Micro Finance
Economic Growth
Women Empowerment
Community Development
Access to Finance
Social Welfare
Healthy Lifestyles
Clean Safe Water
Enabling Job Readiness
Energy Access
Sector Impact
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Measurement & Impact
Though many companies primarily measure their programs impact by way of
testimonials, a large number feel that they have strong evidence of their pro-
grams positive efectiveness in a number of domains. One company reports
that within their program,
Participants are 41% less likely to leave the company, and 85% feel they are
doing something diferently as a result of their experience.
Another company reported that their program has impacted more than
140,000 lives. Yet, many barriers persist that limit the ability of corporations
to measure their programs impact efectively.
Still too few companies are engaged in global pro bono for the practice to
have developed a measurable collective social impact. Further, corporations
lacked a shared standard by which to measure their programs.
Perhaps the greatest opportunity within the practice lies in cooperation
among companies. While close to a third (32%) were not interested in col-
laboration, more than half (54%) had either formed joint teams (29%) or in-
tentionally collaborated with another company to either provide parallel or
sequential services to a local organization (25%). Further, close to a quarter
(21%) had not collaborated in the past but were considering the model and
interested in doing so in the future. One response: We would welcome the
opportunity to collaborate.
Most worthy of note is the signifcant increase in the number of participants
deployed annually, which has increased from 574 in 2009 to close to 2100
(estimated) in 2014.
While the feld of global pro bono presents
enormous opportunity for companies with
the curiosity and will to engage produc-
tively in emerging markets, program man-
agers identify a number of key challenges
that continue to persist.
In the realm of business impact, some be-
lieve such programs are too expensive.
Others identify that lack of resources or
commitment from the local host organi-
zations can prevent efectively identifying
and quantifying a projects benefts. As has
already been identifed within this report,
one of the greatest obstacles to scale is a
lack of meaningful data, much of which is
self-reported, creating inherent bias in its
collection. Whats more, many companies
struggle to decide who among feld sales,
business development, and CSR should
get the credit for the outcomes such pro-
grams deliver.
As pertains to social impact, program
managers again identify that self-reported
surveys of host organizations on a one- or
six-month horizon are often insufcient
to appropriately capture impact, which is
most often long-term. At the same time,
many projects run on a relatively small
scale on short timeframes, making it dif-
cult to measure any meaningful beneft, or
make extended commitments to meaning-
ful impact.
In many respects, the best way to address
these challenges is through many of the
priorities already identifed in this report.
Greater collaboration among companies,
and growing commitments to felding more
employees provides a pathway for more
efective impact measurement alongside
the practices growing social impact.
Number of ParAcipants
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 (E)
# of Volunteers 574 992 1484 1876 2085 2087
Challenges & Opportunities
Global pro bono programs are unique corporate investments that yield multiple returns. As a growing number of com-
panies embrace the opportunities aforded by global pro bono programs, the practice will face a number of challenges
and opportunities, including measuring program impact and greater cooperation among companies.
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PYXERA Global The New Frontier of Global Engagement | 11
o Fight for appropriate human and material resource
support before you begin.
o Base your program on existing best practices.
o Make sure it ties to the strategic objectives of the
o Set monitoring/evaluation goals as you start your
o Find a partner with shared value and understanding
for the execution.
Gaining Support
o Get to the top decision-makers to communicate the
success of the program.
o Make sure that HR has a vested interest, particularly if
there is a talent dvelopment component.
o Ensure the CEO endorses the business and social value
of the program.
o Engage senior leadership early in the process and gain
their support.
o Expect the unexpected and be prepared for your plans
to change.
o Be service-oriented with a focus on host clients needs.
o Be open to new approaches within a changing environ-
o Tell your story wellinternally and externally.
Though such programs can be time consuming and complex to design and deliver, the rewards are well worth the
investment. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when designing your programs:
To learn more about global pro bono programs, contact
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PYXERA Global The New Frontier of Global Engagement | 12
The ICV Leadership Council
Created and facilitated by PYXERA Global since 2011, the International Corporate Volunteerism (ICV) Leadership
Council is a global community of corporations that are implementing global pro bono programs. The goal of the Coun-
cil is to promote the expanding feld of corporate pro bono and highlight its impact on participants, corporations, and
global challenges. The ICV Leadership Council provides an opportunity for professionals in the feld to network, share
program experiences and best practices, and create new operating models that can lead to improved program and
project-based performance.
Phone: 1-202-872-0933
Fax: 1-202-872-0923
1030 15
Street NW | Suite 730 East | Washington, D.C. 20005
PYXERA Global creates groundbreaking partnerships between the public, private, and
social sectors that leverage the unique attributes of each to create shared value and
innovative solutions to complex challenges. Our initiatives include a wide range of
services from local content development, to global pro bono programs, and integrated
community development eforts that transform lives and livelihoods.
With a quarter century of experience in more than 90 countries, along with imagination,
determination, and the support of a passionate and dedicated team, we navigate
challenges and pinpoint purposeful global engagement opportunities for our clients
and partners.
We have a passion for designing and managing solutions that achieve real-world goals
yet also inspire, enrich, and endure.