On September 5, LinkedIn hosted the judging and awards for Taproot’s MAKE IT MATTER Challenge at their office in Mountain View. The event, generously sponsored by LinkedIn and Reid Hoffman, was the culmination of a challenge that sought to find new ways to engage nonprofits in high-impact pro bono service. Here are the top 10 things we learned.
10. Pro bono for pro bono = MEGA BONO. Judges bringing their social venture and strategy experience to bear on a critical social sector problem? Pro bono. Venture capitalists helping our teams craft their pitches? Pro bono. Professional photographers snapping the event for us? Pro bono. An event coordinator using his fine arts training to create a unique award for one of the winners? Super pro bono!
9. Professionals really want to do pro bono. Well, we already knew that, but we found out more about it, including that 2.1 million professionals have flagged their LinkedIn profiles to say that they want to do skills based volunteering. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a high-ROI way to give back and a great way to use your skills.
7. Nonprofits really want to get high-quality pro bono. Nonprofit employees submitted 40% of our original 160 entries, and of the 9 members of the 4 finalist teams, 7 were current or former nonprofit employees. That from-the-trenches insight was really important to generating good ideas.
6. Crowdfunding campaigns could be a really good way to get more nonprofits to high-quality pro bono service. Funding the staff time to manage pro bono projects keeps many nonprofits from taking on these projects. With crowdfunding, they can cover that cost before kicking off the project, and highlight the new ways they are connecting with resources in their community. (Watch the brief pitch here.)
5. There are a lot of existing tools that could help nonprofits get pro bono. Each team was really smart about how they would use tools such as tech communities, crowdfunding platforms, scheduling and project planning tools, LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace, and Taproot’s soon-to-launch Online Pro Bono Marketplace to make high-quality pro bono more accessible to nonprofits.
4. A challenge grant structure for foundations could be a really good way to get more nonprofits to high-quality pro bono service. What if foundations added a cash bonus on top of traditional grants if a nonprofit effectively engaged pro bono during the grant period? (Watch the brief pitch here.)
3. Mountain View often has much nicer weather than San Francisco. (Okay, we didn’t JUST learn this, but it’s worth pointing out.)
2. A pro bono service corps, similar to AmeriCorps or Teach for America, could be a really good way to get more nonprofits to high-quality pro bono. By bringing pro-bono-focused project management consultants to nonprofits across the country, we could promote pro bono from the inside out! (Watch the brief pitch here.)
1. Pro bono is mainstream. A decade ago, we couldn’t have gotten nearly the number or variety of ideas we saw come through the Challenge pipeline. (Anchoring pro bono “asks” to seasons, like changing your tires in the fall; deploying pro bono SWAT teams; building McTaproot?) Nor would we have had more than 75 questions from the audience during the Q&A. That top-of-mind innovation is a victory for the nonprofit sector and for the all the professionals and companies out there who want to give their skills. So cheers to you all: keep on doing it pro bono!