Supporting Vulnerable Populations: Donating Services and Expertise

With the need out there so great, giving back to the community feels more important than ever. Monetary donations are one of the most common ways to donate, but giving back through pro bono work can be even more impactful. Donating professional services fills essential capability gaps for non-profits and is an effective way to break down barriers for vulnerable populations by providing access to services that they would otherwise be unable to access.

Non-profits often have few resources for extraneous programming (i.e. programming not specifically included in our Shelter funding). Volunteers with unique expertise, whether it’s legal advice, graphic design, or IT supports, can fill gaps and support programs in different ways, resulting in greater positive impacts for the community.

A few examples of professional services that has been donated to Alpha House in the past are haircuts, yoga classes, and acupuncture sessions. Here’s a few examples of professional services that have been donated, and how their impact goes beyond monetary support:

Legal Services

Pro bono work in the legal sector is a great example of how invaluable donating expertise can be to non-profits, and more importantly, the vulnerable populations that we serve. Accessing legal services is gatekept by significant financial barriers, making them out of reach for most vulnerable individuals and non-profits; having this expertise donated is often the only way they can access these services that are essential to improving their circumstances. Working directly with clients isn’t the only way to donate legal services either; providing your knowledge and expertise in how to navigate the legal system can be a big asset to non-profits working in this sector.


Integrative Health Centre has been working with Alpha House to provide our clients acupuncture treatment based on the NADA Protocol, a treatment model developed in the 1970’s to help individuals with substance use disorder with their recovery. This acupuncture is effective in helping with trauma, anxiety, depression, irritability, and cravings. This treatment is a nonverbal, non-threatening intervention that is well suited for group sessions; this means that there is no need to talk about past experiences/trauma, making it accessible for a lot of our clients. Therapeutic services like these are important to the recovery process, and without practitioners willing to donate their time, they would be otherwise unavailable to vulnerable populations that need them.

“This partnership with Alpha House has been very rewarding and I’m honoured in providing treatments and supports for the clients.”

  • Lynda Smith, Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine


Haircuts are a great example of an essential service that homeless individuals would otherwise not spend money on, in favour of prioritizing food or other essential items. When it comes to homelessness, and especially long-term homelessness, basic hygiene such as hair maintenance can become a big struggle. Improved self-esteem and dignity are huge benefits to receiving a haircut as an unhoused individual, but the biggest benefit is the improved health outcomes that comes with clean hair and a practical haircut that they can maintain. Long, unkempt hair over a long period of time can lead to issues like matting, causing that individual pain and discomfort until they’re able to access the resources they need to maintain their hair.

We want to encourage businesses to offer ‘Volunteer Time Off’, which gives employees their regular compensation for hours spent volunteering at a charity/community organization. Encouraging employees to volunteer their expertise gives them the opportunity to work closely with a cause they care about and to see the positive impact of their contribution firsthand. This can be a powerful motivator— giving employees the opportunity to work in different environments can bring fresh perspectives and ideas into your company and raise morale all around.

What if you want to donate your expertise but commuting or finding a schedule that matches up with yours is an issue? Virtual volunteering is a great way to volunteer when you need a more flexible opportunity. VolunteerConnector is a useful resource for Albertans looking to find virtual volunteering opportunities; there are plenty of volunteer postings that cover a range of professions under the ‘work remotely’ filter.

We as a society are more divided than ever before in a world that demands collective action to address modern social issues such as food insecurity, homelessness, and discrimination. Supporting your community through donating your expertise is a powerful way to make an impact and contribute to positive social change firsthand. Pro bono work bridges the gap between businesses and non-profits by addressing the resource, capacity, and skills constraints that many non-profits face. By coming together as a community, we can work towards breaking the cycle of homelessness, getting people the help that they need, and building a more sustainable future.