Pro Bono Week 2013 turned out to be a bit of a surprise for everyone at Taproot. Sure, we’ve all over it. It’s who we are, it’s what we live and breathe, highlighting the impact of the work that we do here and inspiring others to follow suit.
But like most organizations that have been leading a movement throughout their existence, we predicted that we’ll need to work hard to pull others into this. We assumed we’ll have to carefully craft a pitch to our friends and partners about the value-add of their participation. But what we saw has been much different – other organizations not only agreeing to participate, but thanking us for convening this opportunity to highlight what they’re doing. Many have even sought us out and pitched us on the value of their participation.
The growing acceptance of pro bono
Before Taproot was launched in 2001, nonprofits didn’t view pro bono work as a reliable way to strengthen their infrastructure. Over and over again, we’re hear the same mantras: “you get what you pay for,” or, my favorite, “the gift that keeps on taking.”
Today, strong and strategic nonprofits are using pro bono to move their missions forward both in the US and abroad. Today, pro bono intermediary organizations have come together from over 10 different countries to learn from each other and co-design the global pro bono marketplace. And, they’ve raised the bar for the Pro Bono Week campaign. Probonoweek.org, launched by the nonprofit Pro Bono Lab in France and supported by Taproot Foundation and Endeavour Volunteer (Canada), is the first international forum for leaders in the pro bono marketplace.
At Taproot, we’ve owned the pro bono movement for over a decade – and we continue to lead that charge. As we speak, there’s a Pro Bono Week branded VW van cruising Chicago, and across the country we are delivering workshops, labs, and presentations to hundreds of people that will join in and help lay the groundwork for the pro bono marketplace. But it’s not just our movement anymore. The Pro Bono Week campaign was so successful thanks to the tireless work done by our partners across the US. Meanwhile, this week concluded the first ever Kreativmarathon in Munich, while Endeavour Volunteer is launching the first ever Pro Bono Marathon in Canada and our international friends have taken true leadership roles in driving the pro bono ethic globally.
We no longer have to convince the right players that pro bono service is critical to the future of the nonprofit sector. Global leaders across sector lines have embraced pro bono as a means for unprecedented collaboration – and now the movement belongs to them.