Normally the highlight of any trip would be the chance to have dinner in an honest to goodness castle or presidential palace as it happens. And I can’t deny that visiting Quelez in Lisbon, Portugal, was breathtaking and all around fun. For me though–despite the “royal” welcome I was given in Lisbon as an attendee of the Global Pro Bono Summit–the pinnacle moment was around 10 a.m. on the first day when, in looking around, I realized that the room was full of people just like me: passionate about pro bono programming and energized about its potential and impact on our social change sector.
It can be at times a little alienating to be deeply passionate about something that .01% of the population can define! (We’re working on growing that number.) But at the Global Summit I met people like A. who is working in the corporate sector in Russia and – off the side of his desk! – launching a social enterprise to bring people and talent to serve local NGOs. Or N., in Canada, who spends 12 months with 5 organizations bringing the skills from employees at professional service firms to deliver deep dive engagements. And those are only 2 of the 120+ attendees from NGOs, corporations, and social impact orgs from across the globe! Together we spent 4 days mapping pro bono service to tackle the world’s challenges. We considered, debated, and explored how pro bono can be part of the UN SDGs, offer sector solutions, and refine civic engagement.
Fifteen years ago when Taproot launched, it had one goal: bring the talent of the corporate sector to meet the infrastructure needs of nonprofits. We were alone in this movement as we strove to figure out what successful pro bono looked and felt like for professionals, nonprofits, executives, and the corporate sector. Now, we are just one small part of a Global Network that is innovating and developing a new movement. And that, for me, is what inspiration looks like!
Elizabeth Schwan-Rosenwald is Taproot’s Chief External Relations Officer.
Photos by Catarina Oliveira e Alves and Nuno Janu’rio