, the nonprofit that helps other nonprofits find skilled professionals willing to donate their time and skills, and LinkedIn, the online business networking site, have partnered to create a new search engine, the Project Finder
The engine, which can be accessed through Taproot's website, allows individuals and organizations to complete robust searches of their own and LinkedIn's wider network to staff more than a hundred projects.
For example, a nonprofit in D.C. needs help creating a fundraising plan. A member of the nonprofit visits Taproot, agrees to connect to her LinkedIn account, and is presented with a list of people in her network who might have the skills and be able to help her organization. From there, she can filter based on location and other parameters, using LinkedIn's interface.
According to Max Skolnik, deputy director for Taproot in D.C., in 2012, LinkedIn approached the nonprofit about creating a partnership. "They came to us and said, 'We have 200 million members. How can we connect for real social impact?'
"Initially, the connection was about filling board seats. There are two million board seats out there, and 80% of members on LinkedIn expressed an interest in board service."
Taproot D.C. works with 40 local grantees in the greater Washington area each year. Instead of offering financial assistance, the company offers service grants. Each grantee applies for a specific project. There are 19 to choose from in four broad areas: strategy management, leadership development and strategic HR, marketing and information technology. Once a grant is made, a team of five — a director, a project manager, and three specialists — all work as pro bono consultants for nine to 12 months on the project. There are currently 400 pro bono consultants in Taproot D.C.'s pool.
"When people hear 'pro bono,' they always think, 'lawyer,'" Skolnik says. "But there are so many things you can do pro bono. It's a game changer, and it puts you on a real path to sustainability."