Frequently Asked Questions

ALL Volunteer Nonprofit
What is pro bono consulting?

Pro bono consulting, also known as skills-based volunteering, allows you to use your professional skills, experience and education to help nonprofits.

What is the relationship between PennPAC and the University of Pennsylvania?

PennPAC is an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization and a Shared Interest Group of the University of Pennsylvania.

What organizations partner with PennPAC?

PennPAC partners with a number of stakeholders in the nonprofit sector including the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Nonprofit New York, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Thrive Alliance, the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, Ponce Bank, and many others.

Do you have to be an alumni of the University of Pennsylvania to volunteer with PennPAC?

Yes, we only accept volunteers from our alumni network and faculty of The University of Pennsylvania

Do you require a certain background or skillset to be a volunteer on a consulting project?

No. No nonprofit or consulting experience is necessary, and Penn alumni with all professional backgrounds are welcome to apply. We do require the following from our volunteers:

  • Be a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Be passionate about serving the nonprofit sector.
  • Commit 3-4 hours/week for weekly project work/calls
  • Attend 2-3 in-person (or virtual) client meetings.
  • Attend virtual training before the project start
  • Be respectful of your project team and client
What is the application process to become a volunteer?
  • Submit an application with your selection of how you would like to volunteer with PennPAC
  • After an application is filled out, it is reviewed by a member of our Volunteer Relations Team who sets up a mini-interview with each candidate.
  • When applying for a consulting project, volunteers can choose the top nonprofit clients they would like to work with. Based on availability and scheduling, the volunteer will be matched with a nonprofit client.
  • Once a volunteer is assigned to a project approved, the volunteer is notified via email.
What types of consulting projects are there?

There are two types of consulting projects:

  • A full consulting engagement with a team of up to 4-7 volunteers include two Team Co-Leads, 1 Liaison, and 4 consultants will last up to 10 weeks
  • A mini project with a team of up to 2-3 volunteers will last up to 8 weeks
What roles can I play on a consulting project?
  • Consultant: work on a team with up to 6 other volunteers including two Team Co-Leads and a Liaison. These volunteers typically spend 3-4 hours/ week over the course of the project.
  • Co-Leader: serve as the primary client interface & guide the team which usually includes 4 Volunteer Consultants. Co-Leaders spend an average of 4-5 hours/week over the course of approximately 10-12 weeks. Co-Team Leaders have usually participated on at least one project as a Consultant.
  • Liaison: defines the scope of work and provides oversight and guidance to ensure success of the consulting team. Liaisons must have previously served in a project leadership role. Liaisons spend an average of 5 hours scoping the project and 1-2 hours/week during the course of 8-10 weeks engagement.
Where are consulting projects?
  • Consulting projects are primarily located in our current three PennPAC locations: New York, Bay Area and Philadelphia
  • Starting in the fall of 2023, we’ll also be offering virtual projects for nonprofits and volunteers across the country.
How long are consulting projects?
  • A full consulting engagement lasts up to 10 weeks
  • A mini consulting project lasts up to 8 weeks
When do consulting projects run?

Our consulting seasons run up to twice a year (Spring & Fall) by location. Spring consulting projects run from January through May and Fall consulting projects run from September through December. However, the exact timing of each consultant season varies by location.

What are the most common type of consulting engagements?

Some of the most common project we consult with are fundraising strategy, marketing strategy, growth strategy

How many hours will I need to dedicate to nonprofit consulting projects?

The hours needed for a consulting project will depend on your role and whether you are on a full engagement or mini project. On average it’s up to 5 hours per week for the length of the project.

Are there projects that are fully virtual?

Yes, while some projects based in NYC, Philadelphia and the Bay Area meet in-person with the client, there are other projects (based either in those cities or elsewhere in the county) where all volunteers’ work is fully virtual. Be sure to communicate your preferences on your application and when you are contacted by a member of the Volunteer Relations Team.

Are there other ways that I can do pro bono consulting without commiting to a consulting project?

Yes, there are many ways to volunteer with PennPAC including some of the other services that we provide nonprofits, e.g. ImPACt events and Coaching. And please sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop about upcoming opportunities.

Are there ways I can volunteer to help PennPAC’s own operations?

Volunteers can also provide their services to PennPAC Core/Operations. These positions offer great leadership opportunities within the organization. They’re often more flexible than our consulting engagements and good for volunteers who would consider a non-client facing role. This includes opportunities on the DEAI Task Force, Development, Marketing, and more.

How can I make a financial contribution?

To make a financial contribution, please donate here

Where do the funds come from to support the work that PennPAC is doing?

PennPAC relies on the generosity of donors, including PennPAC volunteers, other alumni and friends.

Is PennPAC funded by the University of Pennsylvania?

No. PennPAC, Inc. is a separately incorporated 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, not controlled in any way or funded by the University of Pennsylvania. We’re a Shared Interest Group of the University of Pennsylvania.

Does PennPAC have corporate sponsorship opportunities? If so, how can I learn more about this?

Please email us here to connect with some from PennPAC to discuss a corporate sponsorship

How do I get assigned to a project? Can I select the nonprofit I work with?

When filling out the volunteer application, whether as a new or returning volunteer, you can identify the projects you would prefer to work on. We do our best to match our volunteers with their top selections.

I do not live in New York, Philadelphia or the Bay Area. Can I still volunteer with PennPAC?

Yes! While most of our consulting projects are in those three metro areas, we also offer virtual programming, including ImPACt events, and Coaching. There are also opportunities to get involved in supporting PennPAC’s operations as part of our Core. And, starting in the fall of 2024, we’ll be accepting volunteers and nonprofits from across the country for virtual consulting engagements

How do I find out what opportunities are available for me at PennPAC?

Please check back to the PennPAC website to see what we’ve got going on. You can also reach out to us here to schedule a time to learn more.

Are there any requirements to be accepted as a PennPAC client for a full consulting engagement?

We consider the following for potential PennPAC clients:

  • 501(c)(3) status
  • 3+ full-time, paid staff including Executive Director sponsorship and key staff champion
  • Organizational stability and capacity, e.g. not in the midst of a leadership transition or during the same period as other competing priorities
  • Operating budget of $300k+
  • Does not promote a religious or political belief
  • Ability to meet with consulting team outside business hours (typically 3 meetings will be held on a weeknight from 7pm to 9pm)

We do consider smaller organizations for mini projects, Coaching and ImPACt. Please reach out to us here for more information.

How many hours will my organization need to dedicate to the consulting project?

You will need a key staff champion to work with the PennPAC consulting project team. The number of hours that you will need to dedicate to the project will vary depending on the project but is typically not more than a few hours a week.

What does the application process entail?
  • Review PennPAC’s eligibility guidelines here.
  • Submit the online application that asks questions about your nonprofit and the help that you are looking for from PennPAC
  • Applications will be reviewed by a member of the PennPAC team. If there are additional questions or a need for clarification, a member of the nonprofit selection team will reach out to you during the review window (December for spring projects and May for fall projects).
  • Client rosters are selected by February (for spring) and July (for fall). All applicants will be contacted by PennPAC with the status of their application and next steps. If chosen for a full or mini project, a PennPAC liaison will reach out to you for the next steps for a project. If not chosen, potential opportunities to partner with PennPAC in other ways or an invitation to reapply for the next project season.
How many times can PennPAC work with us on nonprofit projects?

We love returning clients! We only ask that you wait one year from the time your last project ended to apply again

As a returning PennPAC client, do I have to fill out the nonprofit application?

Yes, we do require returning nonprofit clients to fill out the nonprofit application as key information may have changed since the last time you worked with PennPAC. Also, the application allows the nonprofit to input information about the new project that the nonprofit needs help with.

What happens if my application is rejected?

Oftentimes, a PennPAC member from the location will reach out to discuss why your application wasn’t selected and discuss potential opportunities to work together in different ways and in the future. If you don’t hear from someone, feel free to reach out to us to schedule a call.

What happens if I can’t afford the fee? Are there other options?

Yes, we make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Please describe your situation on the application.

Are there other ways that PennPAC can help us if we aren’t accepted for a consulting project?

While your nonprofit may not be eligible for a full or mini consulting project, there may be other services that we can provide like an ImPACt event, or Coaching.

What are ImPACt Events?

ImPACt events are based out of PennPAC New York City chapter and are one-off, high-impact opportunities to help our nonprofit clients learn more, share more, and do more. ImPACt events are customizable events held either in person in NYC or virtually. Virtual events are open to nonprofits and alumni across the country and typically start at 5:30pm ET.

What kind of projects are supported by PennPAC?

The kinds of projects but not exclusively supported are as follows:

  • Growth planning
  • Marketing strategy
  • Program analysis
  • Operations strategy
  • Organization structure
  • Funding strategy
  • Financial analysis
  • Other

However, we do not do operational activities like:

  • Building websites
  • Developing and writing content
  • Creating brand/style guides
  • Designing systems
  • Recruiting board members and more
Can I get assistance with filling out the nonprofit application?

Yes, if you need assistance with filling out the nonprofit application, please email us here.

If my nonprofit is not in NYC, Philadelphia or the Bay Area, can PennPAC still help?

Yes! starting in the fall of 2024, we’ll be accepting volunteers and nonprofits from across the country for virtual consulting engagements.

Where does PennPAC get its funding?

PennPAC relies on the generosity of donors, including PennPAC volunteers, other alumni and friends.

Where do the volunteers come from?

Volunteers are alumni from the University of Pennsylvania.