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Philanthropy and Service: Getting the Best Return on Your Investment

One year ago, I wrote a post here on “Building Your Nonprofit Investment Portfolio: Leveraging Your Impact.” In the post, I recommended how to decide where to make your personal contributions in order to make a difference on the issues that matter to you most.

One year ago, I wrote a post here on “Building Your Nonprofit Investment Portfolio: Leveraging Your Impact.” In the post, I recommended how to decide where to make your personal contributions in order to make a difference on the issues that matter to you most.

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Given the economic challenges of the past year, I looked back on that post to see what I would update. Surprisingly, nothing, in terms of how to choose where to invest. What I would like to do, however, is emphasize the value of contributing your time and expertise as well as your dollars.

Many Fast Company readers are business people and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. Many of you have such valuable skills, experience, and perspectives that you can help nonprofit executives to achieve new levels of success in tackling issues from economic revitalization in our communities, to global poverty, social justice, and environmental sustainability, just to name a few.

For example, last summer, I observed a two-week process during which a bright 25 year old management consultant volunteered to help a brilliant nonprofit CEO/entrepreneur as they worked together to articulate the CEO’s new five-year global strategy. The freshly minted and measurable goal was so compelling that it has helped this organization to access powerful new sources of funding.

Management consulting, technology, marketing, public relations, organizational development, finance, accounting, investments, and law–just to name a few–are areas of expertise that many nonprofits seek for skilled volunteering and board membership. Knowledge or networks related to an organization’s current or potential funding sources are also useful; these might include corporations, foundations, philanthropists, government sources, or multilateral/development funding institutions. Expertise related to global communities where the organization will be expanding can also be valuable.

So for the best return on your investment, I encourage you to consider how you can contribute time and expertise as well as money. You might be surprised how much you can help an organization to accomplish, and how great you feel about that.

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About the author

Korngold provides strategy consulting to global corporations on sustainability, facilitating corporate-nonprofit partnerships, and training and placing hundreds of business executives on NGO/nonprofit boards for 20+ years. She provides strategy and board governance consulting to NGO/nonprofit boards, foundations, and educational and healthcare institutions. Korngold's latest book is "A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot," published by Palgrave Macmillan for release on 1/7/14

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