Project Scoping: How to Get the Most Out of Skill-Based Volunteering

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Have you ever been part of a project that took longer (or was more expensive) to achieve than first thought? Join the club.

Skill-based volunteers are a great way to get the technical skills, expertise, or advice that may be needed to reach some of your organization’s bigger goals.

They bring a new perspective, different skill sets, and can be just the push that’s needed to finish a task that’s constantly on the backburner, or a project that there never seems to be enough time (or team) for.

But bringing in skill-based volunteers can present its own set of challenges:
How well will they integrate with my team? How can I be sure they’ll finish the project in the time allotted? What happens when they leave, will we be in over our heads?

One of the key steps that you can take to ensure that the skill-based volunteers are set up for success while they’re with your organization is to determine the project's scope beforehand.

Project Scope

At the heart of any successful project is a clear goal, how it’s going to be achieved, and who’s going to achieve it.

What is project scoping

Project scoping, or “project planning”, is the process of translating the needs of the organization into specific, detailed deliverables, inputs, milestones, and deadlines.

Project scopes are narrowly focused on the specific needs or challenges of the organization. Creating a project scope helps organizations determine exactly what their needs are, which projects or challenges would benefit most from skill-based volunteering, and what tasks and priorities that engaged volunteers would be responsible for.

A project scope helps both the organization and the skill-based volunteer understand what needs to be done (in-scope) and what doesn’t (out-of-scope).

What to include in a project scope

  • Scope of work
    What does the project or skill-based volunteer opportunity specifically entail? What hard and soft skills does the right volunteer embody to make them a perfect fit for your organization and this project? What are the tasks or challenges that need to be addressed for your organization to benefit from recruiting a skilled volunteer? 
  • Managing the skilled volunteers
    Who is responsible for welcoming and on-boarding the new volunteers? Who will be in charge of making sure that the volunteer has what they need to accomplish the project. Who will oversee the project to make sure that the work being completed is the right quality, and is following the right timeframe, that your project requires. How will you communicate with the skill-based volunteer, and how will you stay in contact? How frequently will communication be needed?
  • Where the work will be done
    Where will the work take place? How will the project be completed? Over the phone? Via video calls, like Zoom? Or will the meetings and work need to be done in-person? Will travel be required, or is remote working adequate to complete the project?
  • Resources 
    What does the skill-based volunteer need to ensure that they have everything they need to be successful with the project? Will the volunteer need access to special folders or sensitive data? Will they need specialized software or programs to complete their tasks?
  • Timeline 
    What is the start date and end date? How long will the project take? Put another way, when does your organization need the project completed by?
  • Expected deliverables
    What are the specific deliverables and tasks that skill-based volunteers will be working on during their time with your organization? What is a part of their responsibilities? What is NOT a part of their responsibilities?
  • Milestones
    What are the small wins along the way to a successfully completed project? What are the steps to a completed project?
  • Reporting requirements
    What documentation is necessary to ensure a successfully completed project? How will your organization measure the impact and good work that the volunteer accomplishes?
  • Project evaluation & completion criteria
    What does success look like? What does “being done” mean in the case of this project? How do you know when the project is done, or if it’s incomplete? Who needs to know when the project is complete; your organization's stakeholders, the volunteer's employer? Where and how should the success stories be shared?
  • Post-project requirements
    What needs to be set in place so your organization’s staff will be able to take control and make best use of the completed work once the project is done? Does anyone need to be shown new skills, or how to do something? Who will the baton be passed onto once the skill-based volunteer leaves


A clear, specific, and detailed project scope helps determine exactly what your organization needs, sets expectations for both your team and the skill-based volunteer, and sets the volunteer up for immediate and long-term success at the project.

Also, a properly completed project scope helps you find the best possible volunteer for your organization, gets everyone on the same page, and decreases the chances that things can go off-track or get delayed. 

Next steps

Once the project scope is complete, and your organization has a clear understanding of what kind of needs your organization has, it's time to write the project description and begin posting project online to begin recruiting highly-skilled volunteer candidates! 


Has your organization completed the project scope and you're ready to begin finding skill-based volunteers? MeaningfulWork can help.

We match highly-skilled, company volunteers with nonprofits for greater community impact!

We have customizable templates that clearly lay out the scope of the most common types of skill-based advising and projects, to save you time and get you started, faster.

We're now accepting applications to join our beta program.


Did we miss anything in this article? Let us know below!

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