Pro bono is becoming a global gold standard for corporate volunteerism
Seated among peers at the IMPACT 2030 Summit at the United Nations recently, I had one of those moments in your career when everything just comes together. For nine years I’ve been committed to connecting the social sector to the business talent they need in marketing, IT, finance, and HR through pro bono service and now I was in a room of like-minded colleagues determined to channel this talent toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Leaders and experts from corporate, government, and the NGO sectors came together with the same audacious belief that contributed business talent can help to transform our communities for the better. Despite a 15 year path ahead, I appreciated the collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit that was at the foundation of these conversations. As pro bono becomes more of a global gold standard for corporate volunteerism, I am honored to represent both Taproot Foundation and the rapidly growing Global Pro Bono Network as an IMPACT 2030 Founding Stakeholder.
We face countless global challenges, but each and every day, millions of social sector organizations work tirelessly to try to address these challenges, and protect the communities most affected by them. Yet too often, it is not a lack of compelling mission or powerful vision that impedes these organizations from achieving their full potential. The social change sector is too often stretched – for time, for resources, and for the opportunity to access the right expertise. With limited resources, there are too few opportunities to connect, share knowledge and skills, foster innovation, and maximize impact.
If we are going to successfully contribute to the SDGs, we need to invest in bringing together professionals from all sectors in focused, effective ways. I’ve personally witnessed the trust and commitment that occurs when intrepid and entrepreneurial professionals from business and social sectors work closely together through pro bono consulting. This creates transformative change for many seemingly intractable challenges. Through cross sector collaboration that brings the right talent to the table, we are all experiencing waves of new solutions in the areas of health, economic development, and environment. Talent is the engine of our work; pro bono service is volunteerism on jet fuel.
The field of pro bono has scaled and matured tremendously and is truly ready to take a prominent role in global corporate volunteerism. CECP confirms this trend in its Giving Around the Globe report that pro bono is the fastest growing form of corporate volunteerism worldwide, and is the most common form of volunteerism in Asia. In my role as Head of Global Pro Bono supporting the rapidly expanding Global Pro Bono Network, I can attest to the effectiveness of pro bono to improve communities regardless of region. Pro bono is as meaningful and relevant in Scandinavia, Latin America, Asia, and Western Europe. Our Global Pro Bono Network Member organizations, now in 30 countries, are the champions for pro bono in their countries as well as the leaders of high quality pro bono programs. While they report that the motivations and priorities of the participants may differ by society, professionals across the globe dedicated to volunteer their expertise to address real community needs is common throughout the world.
Joel is the founding Head of Global Pro Bono at Taproot Foundation, creating and guiding Taproot’s commitment to support high quality pro bono globally. He has been the lead developer of the Global Pro Bono Network, a rapidly growing network of social entrepreneurial organizations committed to bringing the talents of the business community to organizations working for social good.