Are charities “stuck up” – or the corporate volunteers offering help?

I monitor the question-and-answer site Quora off-and-on, to get a sense of what people are saying about various subjects in which I’m interested, particularly regarding nonprofits, international development work, and/or volunteerism. Recently, this “question” caught my eye:

Why are many charities full of stuck-up people?
I have built an association/network of professionals willing to help charities in the form of skills-based volunteering – i.e. consulting charities with our skills, for free.

But with a very few exceptions, most charities response was to just shrug us off, don’t reply to us or when they reply sound either skeptical or ask for all sorts of background check information.

Worst, some of the people I got in touch with in person would look away at events (or ignore immediately), not accept my invitation on LinkedIn and other little behaviors that make me feel these are some of the worst people I have met in my life. Which sometimes makes me wonder: are they afraid of “competition”? Or have some kind of deep-rooted prejudice against people from the corporate world?

Yeah, jaw-dropping, I know. The problem is, of course, right there in his approach to nonprofits and the language he uses, and sadly, it’s the approach so many corporations have regarding donating their expertise to nonprofits.

My response on Quora:

My first reaction is – why do people promoting skills-based volunteering think nonprofits don’t already have people that are highly-skilled? Why do they think nonprofits are sitting around, wishing someone would show up and do some work for free?

Nonprofits are businesses. And just as a business cannot hire every marketing manager that shows up to work, a nonprofit cannot involve every volunteer that wants to help with marketing, no matter how experienced that person is.

Just as finding a job requires networking and building relationships, so does volunteering, especially for a volunteer that wants to take on a high-responsibility role.

I became so frustrated by the attitude of the “I’m from the corporate sector and you should be grateful that I’m here!” people that I wrote this web page: Donated Services for Nonprofits/Mission-Based Organizations to help guide “skilled” volunteers that want to take on roles at nonprofits in line with their expertise.

Have a read – and think about your own attitude when approaching nonprofits.

His response:

As far as my group is concerned, we don’t think they are not highly skilled – but many of the charities we approached are doing pretty poorly and could do much better with help of “corporate” professionals who can offer a different perspective. Our purpose is to consult, not to join their ranks. Frankly we have seen charities with the most awful and off-putting websites and advertising material. No offense, but sometimes low resources and lack of corporate experience DOES lead to low quality – that’s what I have seen.

Another cringe-worthy set of statements that show just why nonprofits would turn him and his volunteers away. My response, again, pointing out the language he uses and attitude he exudes:

I would never hire anyone, paid or volunteer, whose approach to me was, “Hi, you have the most awful, off-putting web site and advertising material I’ve ever seen. Your lack of corporate experience has lead to low quality. I’m from the corporate sector – I’ll fix it.” I would show you the door. Whether you want to be paid or donate your service, there is a way to approach a nonprofit about undertaking a project on their behalf, on selling them on YOU – and your approach, as shown here, just isn’t it.

And his response:

Obviously we don’t tell them off like that – that would be unprofessional. I was simply answering your question about why we would bother trying to help. But see… what else could I expect from a community of stuck-ups? Prejudice, low education, frustration… you name it! 🙂

And there you have it: his very first post revealed how he felt about nonprofits, and every other posts has as well. If you wonder why nonprofits don’t want to work with this group, look no further than their own words.

Also see:


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