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What is Pro Bono O.R.?

Pro Bono O.R. is a scheme that was launched by The OR Society in 2013 (a pilot scheme started in 2011) that places skills-based volunteers in short term projects with third sector organisations across the UK to assist them in making operational improvements.

Operational Research in a nut shell helps managers make more effective decisions. It is a very broad spectrum and there is usually a way in which it can be applied whether that is increasing efficiency, helping to reduce costs, plan strategy or demonstrate impact.

Since launching in September 2013 the scheme has completed 35 projects with organisations such as RSPCA, Diabetes UK, Work for Us, Elfrida Rathbone Cambden, The Disability Law Service, Parentskool CIC and many more. We work with all types of third sector organisations ranging from large national organisations down to small community groups. We are currently working on 20 projects and have a further 15 in the initial interest stages.

Volunteers are Operational research/analytical professionals. These vary from people in their early career to those who are retired. Some work on projects in their own time, others are given volunteer days by their company and some do a mixture of both. Volunteers can work as individuals, pairs or teams on projects.
Pro Bono O.R. volunteers can make a huge difference in a small amount of time by using their skills to enable organisation to make more effective decisions and as a result help them become more efficient.

Projects vary greatly and as a result so do the skills we are looking for in our volunteer analysts. Skills include: data analysis, data mining, database design, decision analysis, facilitation, financial analysis, forecasting, logistics, mentoring/coaching, modelling, optimisation, performance measurement, problem structuring, programming, project management, regression, risk analysis, scheduling, simulation, statistical analysis, strategic planning/development, system dynamics etc.

The projects vary in length of time from half a day to over a week and can be spread out over a period of time. The types of projects so far have involved: impact measurement, data analysis, efficiency improvement, options appraisal, strategic planning/review, scheduling and process improvement.

Signing up as a volunteer does not require any commitment, volunteers are added to the volunteers’ database and then receive emails as and when projects become available. Volunteers can then choose to delete the email (which are currently around 4 per month) or if they would like to apply for a project, volunteers are asked to send in a CV and short application form. Volunteers can work individually, as teams and can also be paired up with a mentor if they require some support.

New projects are advertised every month and volunteer applications must be received by a specific date (two weeks after the project is advertised) but the timings of the projects are flexible and to be agreed between the volunteer and the organisation.

For more information about the scheme, to sign up as a volunteer, register you support to receive Pro Bono O.R. support and to see the projects we have worked on so far please