By Kim Gillman, Senior Associate Consultant, Advisory Services, Taproot Foundation
CEB knew they could do more. The leading member-based advisory company, CEB had already made significant investments in the social sector including a Community Investment Grant program, a Global Service Day and a commitment to pro bono service. But they wanted to go further with their pro bono strategy, so they came to Taproot and we got to work.
From the beginning, CEB articulated a few specific goals they wanted to achieve. They were interested in an opportunity to do pro bono in a way that would have a meaningful impact on the social sector. They wanted to engage a broad group of employees and make use of the specific skills their staff brings to the table. And they wanted to do all of that in an abbreviated timeframe.
Engaging CEB employees in philanthropic work through pro bono
With Taproot’s support, CEB decided the best model to help it reach its specific goals was ScopeAthon, a half-day pro bono event that connects skilled corporate talent with nonprofits to help them identify their most pressing organizational challenges and scope out concrete solutions to address them.
And, oh, what a ScopeAthon they held. In fact, CEB hosted the largest ScopeAthon we’ve ever seen. In just 2.5 hours, 80 CEB volunteers engaged 18 nonprofits in 22 scoping projects.
Here are the three most notable factors that led to CEB’s success.
- If the Model Fits: Given their background as a professional services firm, CEB is well suited for the ScopeAthon model. The CEB staff has a knack for identifying a problem and unpacking it to its most basic components. As Jerry Sorkin, an Executive Director at CEB, notes, “our people are smart, passionate, driven toward getting to the root of a challenge and finding solutions.” CEB ensured the model they chose maximized this special quality of their employees.
- Reputation and Relationships Rule: CEB mastered the art of leveraging their good reputation and partnerships with local nonprofits to make ScopeAthon a success. It’s often difficult to recruit a large group of nonprofits, but CEB established such a trusted reputation among the local nonprofit community that they were excited to get involved. CEB sourced their nonprofits by drawing upon their portfolio of philanthropic and community partners, as well as the relationships that CEB employees had with nonprofits with whom they were personally affiliated.
- Structure Is Key: In a Scopeathon, corporate employees have 2.5 hours to understand a challenge, get to its root cause, and make recommendations for how to solve it, often within the context of an unfamiliar organization and/or industry. That is a mammoth task. The beauty of ScopeAthon is that Taproot provides the tools and structure to guide employees through the scoping process. Rather than thinking, “where do we start,” they can spend time asking, “how do we solve this challenge?” For CEB professionals, having a structure in place allowed them the opportunity to hone in on what really mattered: Nonprofits strengthening their ability to have a positive social impact.
CEB understands that to maximize employee talent and company resources, they need to leverage the assets their people bring to the table. CEB’s social responsibility goals, their culture and their talent align perfectly with the ScopeAthon model.