Originally posted on the Chronicle of Philanthropy
This week’s Business of Giving features Lindsay Firestone Gruber, president and CEO of the Taproot Foundation. The organization, founded in 2001, helps nonprofits maximize volunteer hours through its pro bono professional services. These services, such as human resources, technology, marketing, strategic planning, and legal counsel directly sustain an organization’s infrastructure and leadership.
“Good intentions always bring people together from a pro bono standpoint, but it’s intentionality that actually ensures that pro bono can be effective for everyone involved,” she says.
Listen to the podcast, which is hosted by Denver Frederick, or read the transcript below.
Denver: Pro bono is a Latin phrase that means “for the public good.” Leading the way to help provide critical pro bono services to the nonprofit community is the Taproot Foundation. And here to discuss what they do and how they do it, it’s a pleasure to have with us Lindsay Firestone Gruber, the President and CEO of the Taproot Foundation. Good evening, Lindsay, and welcome to The Business of Giving!
Lindsay: Thank you. I am thrilled to be here with you.
Denver: Let me start by asking you: How and where did pro bono work get started?
Lindsay: The origin of pro bono is interesting because first, as you mentioned, it’s a legal term; though as I often joke, people seem to think it’s Latin for free legal services, and in reality, it’s for the public good. We think of pro bono as most commonly associated with legal work, largely because of how much of that movement was able to be created in the ‘60s with this charge to the legal community that the only way to really bring a lot of our – at the time – new civil rights policies to life was in ensuring that we were able to take it through the courts and through the court system, which really required that type of support. But in reality, individuals, communities, organizations need all kinds of professional services, not just in the legal realm: HR, marketing, IT, analysis, strategic planning. All these pieces are critical and yet, unlike the legal profession, up until a decade or two ago, there really weren’t the same types of channels to get access. So, in reality, a lot of it either came through the sister-in-law of a board member, who happened to be a graphic designer, or for the handful of organizations that were lucky enough to have a direct connection to a professional services firm.