I listened in on this webinar hosted by HP and the Taproot Foundation today over lunch. The conversation was between Aaron Hurst, President & Founder of the Taproot Foundation and Matthew Bishop, the US Business Editor and New York Bureau Chief of The Economist and it was structured into three parts: the ripple effect of unemployment, competing for talent and hope for the future.
One of the fundamental messages about their discussion to me were that there is a new norm of unemployment, since PCV is all about job creation, this not only got my attention, but made me realize that our goal of working our way out of a job as an organization, is only getting tougher. Instead of the less than 5% unemployment rate that American’s are used to, the new norm will likely be somewhere around 7.5%. In California, our unemployment rate has hovered around 12% since 2009 while the rest of the country averages 9%–7.5% seems almost unambitious but heck, if we can actually attain it, maybe it won’t look so bad.
The competition for talent in the non-profit sector is an uphill battle. The private sector is able to compensate employees much more than we are. The average starting salary for a software engineer in Silicon Valley is $90+k. The average salary of a non-profit executive director in the U. S. is $60k. This discrepancy is widening and the non-profit sector is having a tougher and tougher time recruiting and retaining key talent and yet the nonprofit sector is being asked to scale and needs more than social workers to meet society’s growing needs. Social change organizations increasingly require the same talent at firms like Google but those professionals are priced out of their modest budgets.
What’s the solution? Well, companies can integrate shared values as part of their business strategy and have solving social problems integral to their approach. Leveraging pro-bono services, as Taproot does, as PCV does, is a much more strategic approach to leveraging talent than soup kitchens and painting walls—though those services are critical needs as well. Increasingly, there will be a trend towards asking talented professionals to do more; more than write a check, more than show up at a gala, more than fundraising. Philanthropy will be tied to talent and that’s how we’ll reinvent capitalism as Matthew Bishop explained in the title of his book Philantrhocapitalism. I think we’re ahead of the curve at PCV and we’re approaching solving social problems by recognizing that small businesses actually provide an incredibly a sustainable, empowering and long-lasting contribution to unemployment: jobs. Thank you for helping us continue to tie businesses together with pro bono services and giving more than your money. You help us achieve our impact and re-define capitalism in the twenty-first century.
-Allison, Business Advising