Chris Bzdon, the Executive Director of Child Care Resource & Referral of Chicago, defines her experience with pro bono service using a single word: exceptional.
Every age has so much to offer
I am inspired any time I get to observe a child exploring their world and get to witness their way of thinking. Outside of work, you can find me enjoying time with my grown children and each of my grandchildren.
At work, I lead Child Care Resource & Referral, an organization that is changing the world by facilitating relationships among families with children, early childhood educators, employers, and social service agencies to ensure that children are getting the best educational programs and resources possible. It is challenging work but I know it is all worth it when families have the knowledge, access, and assistance to high quality early learning environments for their children from birth.
One pro bono engagement builds upon the other
We decided to use pro bono service because we had grown beyond our “state” funded core services and were all over the place. CCR&R needed a brand and messaging for our constituency; we required professional advice but, as a nonprofit, did not have the funds to pursue it. Taproot helped bridge that gap by connecting us with highly skilled volunteers who produced professional-level, usable end results.
Our organization received a Taproot Service Grant in 2016 and adopted a full branding and messaging plan with recommendations from our skilled volunteers that is now being implemented through a separate Taproot Plus project. These messaging and visual identity projects made us realize how much we have changed over our 25 year history, and so we decided to seek yet another Taproot pro bono service engagement—this one involving strategic planning preparation to give us a blueprint moving forward. Participation in one pro bono service seems to lead to another! We continue to have plans to reach out for more pro bono. It has become an increasing part of our budget.
Opportunity for greater impact
Outcomes from pro bono have opened many doors for CCR&R. An exciting example of this came from a one-day pro bono event where skilled volunteers performed a cost analysis for our organization. We were able to use this in writing our state grant, which as it so happens, asked if we did any kind of cost analysis. The pro bono cost analysis strengthened our grant application so that we were able to request, and receive, an increase in our funding by over $200,000!
To the people who continue to donate their skills pro bono for my organization, I want to say how sincerely grateful I am for your time and expertise. It is highly valued for the impact it has had on our organization. If I could give a piece of advice to other nonprofit leaders it would be to pursue this type of service! I am extremely grateful for having learned about Taproot and appreciate their well thought out offerings, processes, and connections for pro bono. I hope there is never a limit to how much we can apply for because I keep seeing more pro bono services I’d like to pursue!