At Taproot, we love seeing meaningful collaboration take place between the corporate and nonprofit sectors. The second MasterCard Pro Bono Challenge was a great example of how quality pro bono service can be an excellent way to facilitate cross-sector collaboration, develop talent within the organization and generate lasting impact for both nonprofits and corporate employees.
Teams made up of 25 MasterCard pro bono consultants and 16 nonprofit leaders from participating organizations – Gateway to Entrepreneurship (G2E), Girls Who Code, MOUSE, Per Scholas, and YMCA – tackled capacity challenges related to increasing the involvement of women and girls in technology. Throughout the course of the day, MasterCard experts and nonprofit partners worked together closely to solve organizational challenges ranging from how to engage a specific audience to the best way to structure a sustainable business model.
How did the teams approach their challenges?
On each project MasterCard pro bono consultants and their nonprofit partners were able to define an approach, refine their project scope, and set realistic end goals, including a set of concrete deliverables. MasterCard team members took the time to really listen to the needs of their nonprofit clients and to understand the underlying factors contributing to their capacity challenges. This set the tone for a truly collaborative environment where everyone in the room was able to share their ideas.
A few patterns emerged over the course of the day that made the MasterCard Pro Bono Challenge stand out as a unique pro bono engagement. Here are some tips for any companies looking to replicate MasterCard’s success:
- Focus on a Strategic Issue Area: One of MasterCard’s strategic priorities is the engagement of women and girls in technology. They have a commitment to empowering women in STEM fields and promoting collaborative efforts to further this goal. The MasterCard Pro Bono Challenge was an excellent way to align MasterCard’s social sector impact goals with organizations focused on reaching gender parity in tech professions.
- Advanced Preparation is Key: Each project team came to the event prepared to dive into their challenges. They spent time on calls with their nonprofit partners and their teams, reviewed materials, and developed strategies to approach their work before the event took place. Team members were conscious of the importance of sticking to a defined strategy throughout the day, and worked accordingly. Their extensive prep work made all the difference.
- Teams Can Divide and Conquer: On almost every project, teams broke out into smaller working groups and MasterCard pro bono consultants focused on specific areas that aligned well with their skillsets. This encouraged each employee to be proactive in their contribution to the defined deliverables, and allowed for a breadth of work to take place within the given amount of time.
- Be Intentional about Leadership Development: In every group, skills were being stretched and exercised. The MasterCard Pro Bono Challenge was intentionally designed to facilitate leadership development in both team leads and other MasterCard group members. Team leads readily took charge and were effective at keeping projects on track and within scope. Seeing participants step up and take ownership of their projects helped to demonstrate the effectiveness of pro bono work in developing future leaders at the company.
As we observed during the MasterCard Pro Bono Challenge, pro bono can amplify the efforts of nonprofits to promote their missions and to make a deeper impact in the communities they serve. The MasterCard Pro Bono Challenge also underscored how pro bono programs can be a meaningful way for companies to further their talent development goals and engage employees. MasterCard professionals truly made a difference in the ability of participating organizations to do their critical work, while also developing their own employee talent.
Taproot is proud to have been part of such a meaningful day.