On Thursday, April 18, 2019, AIG hosted its third annual Communications Speed Consulting event in New York City. As part of AIG’s Global Volunteer Month, 17 experts from the AIG Communications team volunteered their time and expertise to support four local nonprofit organizations, each facing critical capacity-building challenges in the area of strategic communications.
In one fast-paced day, Speed Consulting allows nonprofit organizations to address several challenges by rotating through three distinct 50-minute consulting sessions. This year, attendees from nonprofit organizations addressing social issues like college preparation and access, arts education, and foster care, teamed up with AIG volunteers to tackle challenges related to brand strategy, digital and social media marketing, and communications and message development. Through candid and deep-dive conversations, AIG volunteers helped their nonprofit partners identify the root cause of their challenges and brainstormed new ideas and potential solutions, providing actionable tips and tricks along the way.
The day engaged AIG analysts, managers, directors, and AIG’s own Chief Communications Officer, many of whom had participated in previous Speed Consulting events. These seasoned volunteers offered their advice to partners, including insight on best practices like active listening, maximizing resources, and accounting for cross sector differences.
For volunteers old and new, this event revealed the universality of many of the nonprofits’ challenges. One AIG participant reflected, “Over my career, I’ve worked with a variety of companies and the challenges we talked about today are elemental ones that can bedevil any organization.” A nonprofit representative agreed that “it was very helpful to hear that these are common challenges and there are corresponding best practices that can be applied.” These reflections highlight the vast potential of pro bono and demonstrate the tremendous impact of AIG’s event.
Echoed throughout the event was the benefit of getting out from behind a desk and gaining outside perspectives. Nonprofit organizations were able to look at their messaging with fresh eyes and gain insight on how to better connect with their audience. AIG volunteers also helped to identify industry jargon, allowing organizations to implement language that more effectively communicates the organization’s brand. Nonprofit organizations walked away with new, creative ideas, while AIG volunteers were able to think on their feet and apply their skills in a new and exciting setting.
Participants were excited to return to their organizations equipped with new knowledge. “Now I have a lot of new terms to talk about how we can approach our challenge and concrete steps to bring back to our team,” one nonprofit participant shared. These learnings will help nonprofit organizations address critical challenges and allow them to better leverage strategic communications to extend their impact.
Pro bono also offers an opportunity to bring together traditionally siloed groups or teams within a company. As an AIG volunteer commented, “It was great to see how we all come together, and I hope each person can know their own value and bring that to what we do every day.” Another volunteer shared her intentions to bring a more holistic, collaborative approach back to her work based on her experience at Speed Consulting. For AIG volunteers, this was a meaningful opportunity to collaborate with team members in a new way and to learn more about colleagues they may not interact with daily.
This year’s AIG Communications Speed Consulting event left volunteers eager to contribute more to their communities and inspired by the impact their expertise can have. “I’m glad I was able to apply my skills and hopefully help [despite] being so early in my career,” one AIG volunteer commented.
Many nonprofit attendees walked away with concrete next steps and were eager to bring their learnings back to their organizations. One representative expressed her gratitude, saying, “I have so many jewels I’m walking away with. This is an important day for my organization, so thank you.” For AIG volunteers and nonprofit organizations alike, this was an exciting and inspiring day that will contribute to deeper impact within the community.