Last month, Taproot partnered with the Ford Foundation to host a Pro Bono Lab as part of its pilot Spectrum of Service offerings. These offerings provide wrap-around pro bono support leveraged to address key challenges in nonprofit infrastructure. The Pro Bono Lab’s half-day consulting workshop supported seven nonprofit organizations serving NYC across a range of issue areas. Teams of Taproot’s seasoned pro bono consultants partnered with each nonprofit leader to discuss and diagnose a critical challenge, and then plan next steps to tackle the project at hand. It all happened in four hours.
“It is truly inspiring to watch all of these organizations, which are so vital to this community, come together in one room and address the challenges they face in a safe, open conversation,” said John Naughton, senior staff member at the Ford Foundation and facilitator of the Good Neighbor Committee.
Each nonprofit organization at the event is a grantee of the Good Neighbor Committee. This special initiative within the Ford Foundation supports organizations in their own midtown Manhattan neighborhood. From website analytics support to Quickbooks help to brochure design, the challenges presented were diverse and substantial, but the teams were ready!
How it works
Before the event, Taproot’s team consulted with each nonprofit to identify a challenge that could be tackled within the four-hour intensive consulting workshop. Then, Taproot assigned each organization a team of vetted pro bono consultants matching their expertise with the needs of their respective nonprofit partners. These pro bono consultants are business professionals in Taproot’s network from leading companies like Unilever, Morgan Stanley, and McKinsey who donate their time and talent in marketing, IT, finance, strategy and HR.
Taproot’s Pro Bono Labs are structured to help teams get to a solution quickly, following these steps:
a) listen first to further define the organizational challenge
b) diagnose the organization’s specific need
c) identify the possible project or service needed
d) draft a project scope for a solution that addresses the challenge.
Pro bono in action
The Dwelling Place, a long-time shelter and advocate for homeless women, was paired with two veteran pro bono consultants and left the Pro Bono Lab with a clarified challenge, and an action plan enabling them to secure resources to complete the project via Taproot+, Taproot’s online marketplace for pro bono. Sister Joann Sambs, Executive Director of The Dwelling Place, shared, “As nonprofits, pro bono services offer the opportunity to advance our mission, learn new skills, and address urgent needs without depleting so much of our resources.”
This Pro Bono Lab gave The Dwelling Place, and all of the participating organizations, three key opportunities. First, the organizations collaborated with subject matter experts, allowing them hone in on project needs and walk away with an action plan to take their solution from an idea to a reality. Second, they were introduced to Taproot+ and other resources to access pro bono consulting right away. Last, but certainly not least, these nonprofit organizations expanded their networks of engaged volunteers and advocates. Thank you to the Ford Foundation and the Good Neighbor Committee for enabling us to expand our services to these nonprofits and build new partnerships in the NYC community!