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March 16, 2015

Pro Bono O.R. (Operational Research) - free consultancy for charities

Our sister company Career Volunteer has recently collaborated with Pro Bono O.R. who engage volunteers working in the operational research space to work on specific voluntary projects as requested by charities. Pro Bono O.R. are keen to raise their profile and awareness in the voluntary sector. Here, Felicity McLeister, the Pro Bono O.R. Project Manager tells us more about the scheme.

The Operational Research society is offering third sector organisations the opportunity for free consultancy to address a wide range of operational improvements - for example greater efficiency, better customer service, higher quality or lower cost. Whatever the aim, O.R. can offer the flexibility and adaptability to provide objective help.

O.R. is about finding ways to apply analytical methods to make better decisions. Third Sector organisations face extremely complex decisions about the direction they should take and how to allocate scarce resources. These are some of the issues the organisations we've worked with have faced:

  • 'We have lots of different options for the future but it's impossible to decide which to choose in such uncertain times.'
  • 'We're under huge pressure to do more with less, and we don't know how we're going to do it.'
  • 'It's hard to stay objective when we're faced with such emotionally charged decisions.'
  • 'We know we're doing a good job - but how can we prove it?'

Here are some of the issues the projects we've already completed have addressed:

  • Strategic planning/review
  • Impact measurement
  • Process improvement
  • Data analysis
  • Business planning
  • Efficiency improvement
  • Options appraisal
  • Decision making

Since launching in September 2013, Pro Bono O.R. has completed twelve projects and is currently working with a further fifteen organisations. In addition to that there are several organisations that have expressed an interest in receiving support. We have over 250 registered volunteers across the UK and these range from retired professionals to analysts in their early career, consultants and others in the O.R./analytics profession who either volunteer in their own time, are given company time or a mixture of both. Forty four of those volunteers have already worked/are working on projects and many more are eager to get involved with helping support third sector organisations.

Here are some organisations who have already benefitted from Pro Bono O.R.

With funding cuts, but ever-growing needs from their beneficiaries Pro Bono O.R. helped develop a sustainable set of priorities and was able to bring staff on board.

Pro Bono O.R. used literature reviews and modelling techniques to analyse data about the UK dog population. With this data they are able to inform policy-making, with a clearer view of what is needed in order to model the dog population more fully in the future.

Pro Bono O.R. developed a resource planning tool that can be used to generate new ideas and ways of working and create a budget plan for 2014/2015 academic year and beyond.

Hear what the organisation have to say:

"We are enormously grateful for being able to benefit from the advice and support of such a knowledgeable and experienced professional, who was able to raise challenging issues in a sensitive and helpful way"

"We've benefited hugely from your work and support in all areas of the project, and from an organisational perspective you've enabled us to take a highly professional approach to increasing the efficiency of our charity"

Hear what the volunteers have to say:

"I've really enjoyed working with third sector organisations and found the staff extremely positive about the contribution we make"

"Working as a pro bono volunteer is a great way to contribute some professional expertise to some truly worthwhile causes. The Third Sector is full of people who feel passionately about their Mission, so working with them is invariably a positive learning experience"

We are currently working with organisations including Marie Curie, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

For further information about the scheme please visit the Pro Bono O.R. webpage Follow me on twitter and LinkedIn Read my Pro Bono blog

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