January 2016 update: Pierce Family Foundation is pleased to announce that Peer Skill Share is now a program of Forefront in Chicago. Read Forefront's announcement here.
The Peer Skill Share program, created by Pierce Family Foundation in 2010, is a professional development opportunity for nonprofit professionals, designed to support a core mission of the Pierce Family Foundation—capacity building within organizations and the greater nonprofit community itself.
A nonprofit employee who needs help on a particular topic (the "requestor") is matched with an employee of another organization who has expertise on that topic (the "advisor"). The match partners then meet one-on-one for a 2-3 hour Skill Share session. Not only is the program free for participants, but because both parties have dedicated valuable organizational time to the conversation, both organizations are given a $200 grant.
The Peer Skill Share program enables nonprofit professionals to get the kind of help they most value—focused, tailored to their specific needs, and typically on-site—and be compensated for their time rather than paying a workshop fee. For the Foundation, this a low-cost way to provide targeted technical assistance; we see an important additional benefit coming from the relationships that are developed across nonprofits.
The Foundation launched Peer Skill Share with a small pilot program in the fall of 2010. Since then, more than 950 individuals from 350 organizations have completed 420 skill share sessions. The response of participants has been remarkably positive, with 92% of respondents to a recent survey rating their experience as “good” or “excellent.” The benefits of Peer Skill Share continue after the completion of sessions, with 89% of respondents reporting that they have used the knowledge gained through Peer Skill Share to directly benefit their organizations.
“My Peer Skill Share advisor was great to talk with, and offered some really practical suggestions that I will definitely be integrating into my work moving forward.”
“Overall, this meeting helped us get on a proven and feasible path toward creating performance metrics.”
“Knowing now the value of what [my Skill Share partner] had to share with me, I would have gladly paid top dollar for an hour and a half of her time.”
“We look forward to implementing our newfound knowledge. What a great experience.”
"Thank you for the opportunity to allow us to work with [our advisor], someone we would not have had access to otherwise. You are running an amazing program and helping so many people and organizations!"