If you were to see a John Hancock look-alike, a headband-sporting marathon runner, and a hard hat- rocking contractor at a cocktail reception for business professionals in New York City, you might think that some audacious party-crashers had somehow breached security. If you guessed that this eclectic mix of people were actually at Taproot’s “Celebrating Pro Bono: An Evening of Revelry” reception, you’d win a prize.
Celebrating pro bono
Atop the Hudson Hotel overlooking the Manhattan skyline, over sixty corporate leaders and corporate social responsibility professionals gathered on June 1st to celebrate corporate pro bono engagement and the social impact it’s had on the nation’s communities. These corporate leaders represented a broad array of industries – from professional services firms to consumer products – and the cross-sector conversations that marked the evening represented a significant milestone for the pro bono movement. The reception’s attendees shared successes and strategic questions regarding pro bono, celebrated the impact of their pro bono programming, and crafted visions of new possibilities for pro bono and partnership driven social impact.
Still wondering how John Hancock and company slipped past security? The evening boasted eight actors mingling with the crowd in costumes representing each of the eight defined pro bono program models. The actors distributed faux-Polaroid pictures to the crowd, which depicted each of these respective pro bono program types:
A company pools human capital resources on a pro bono project within a short, predetermined time frame (typically an intensive 24 hours) to delver a mass volume of deliverables.
The combination of formal pro bono work with additional corporate assets for the purpose of leveraging significant internal resources against a specific social issues.
An employee is granted a sanctioned and compensated leave of absence to pursue a pro bono project.
Functional Coaching & Mentoring
Employees match up with their nonprofit peers, form a relationship, and share functional expertise.
Standardized Team Projects
Individuals are placed on teams, each with specific roles and responsibilities. Each project is scoped and structured around a standard deliverable based on the needs of the nonprofit partners.
A company makes its services available to a specific number of nonprofit organizations on an ongoing, as needed basis.
A company creates deliverable pro bono that can be applicable to all nonprofits across the sector.
An entity coordinates and oversees internal and external resources, promoting cross-sector collaboration to address a specific special problem. The models coupled with relevant and salient comments by the evening’s hosts, Deloitte, Capital One and Taproot, spurred conversation among the guests about varying forms of pro bono and the suitability and adaptability of each one of the specific corporate settings.
“Celebrating the pro bono movement at our ‘Evening of Revelry’ was an incredible experience. It was exciting to see hte variety of corporate and professional services firms represented,” said Jamie Hartman, Vice President of External Affairs at the Taproot Foundation. “Only two years ago, a celebration of corporate pro bono would have been premature, with many corporations just beginning to understand what pro bono meant for non-lawyers. Since then, the conversation of pro bono in the corporate sector has shifted to focus on how more pro bono can be done and done better – an indicator of the vitality and momentum of the movement. I’m excited to see what the next couple of years will bring us in pro bono innovation.”
If John Hanock and a marathoner can model current pro bono programs today, it’s exciting to imagine the characters that will people the next celebration representing new forms of pro bono driven social impact. What sorts of “party-crashers” do you imagine will join the ranks in the coming years?
Taproot Foundation’s “Celebrating Pro Bono: An Evening of Revelry” was made possible by Visionary Sponsors Capital One and Deloitte, Catalyst Sponsor Booz Allen Hamilton, and Trailblazer Sponsors Merck, Allstate, and FD. Justin Gimotea is a Corporate Relations Fellow at the Taproot Foundation.