After Taproot’s MAKE IT MATTER Challenge, we asked each of our four finalists to reflect on their experience participating in the challenge. Below is the reflection from one of our winning teams, The Pro Bono Challenge Grant, written by Karen McCord.
Team: The Pro Bono Challenge Grant
Team Members: Karen McCord
Why did you enter Taproot’s MAKE IT MATTER Challenge?
Having joined Taproot in April 2014, I was excited about getting more involved in the Taproot community and went to the DC Metro area Challenge Ideation Event. The event was designed to gather like-minded people to generate ideas. Even though the group I worked with did not want to pursue the concept I proposed, I felt it was worth a shot so I entered the idea on my own. My ten years experience working for a nonprofit informs my thinking about the problem.
What was your big idea to help way more nonprofits engage in pro bono service?
Increase pro bono engagement by providing a cash-bonus to be awarded on top of a traditional grant if a nonprofit effectively engages in a pro bono project. Grant-making organizations would be able to drive additional resources to their grantees and multiply their investment through these pro bono challenge grants.
What was your favorite part of the Challenge process?
My favorite part of the process was working with the fantastic and talented Taproot team. After I became a finalist, the Taproot team led me through a rigorous business case testing process which really helped me solidify my idea and my pitch! A very close second was meeting and getting to know the other contestants.
How do you feel like you have had an impact on the pro bono space?
I supported the process of generating ideas and engaging in the conversation about increasing pro bono engagement. I have shared my enthusiasm and positive thinking to support finding a solution.
What’s your personal connection to pro bono?
I am currently the Account Director for a Taproot Foundation Strategic Scorecard project for Life Pieces to Masterpieces. It is my first Taproot project and I have witnessed the power of bringing together an amazing group of Taproot volunteers to support this non-profit.
What was the toughest question you fielded at the Challenge Awards after your pitch?
How can we ensure that funders don’t use this as an opportunity to reduce funding general operating costs by replace funding with pro bono resources? This is an important point and must be considered as the idea is implemented as it is so important we don’t lose sight of the fact that nonprofits need healthy operating budgets and capacity to execute on their mission.
Who was the most interesting person you met?
Naming one person is not possible! Everyone was interesting and added value to the event. Each conversation was with a like-minded group of people with the same goal of utilizing resources for the good of the social sector.
If you could judge a contest, what contest would it be?
I would gladly be a judge for any work involved in supporting increased pro bono engagement. The format was well-designed and brilliantly executed. Could a follow-up contest involve a competition to further design the execution/business planning of the ideas?
Other than your own idea, what inspired you the most?
The positive energy around the issue and that so many people are genuinely interested in supporting nonprofit work.