Practice what you preach
I don’t have children, but a few weeks ago I had what I suspect was a parental moment. That moment when you realize that it’s harder than you thought to practice what you preach.
I was on a deadline to produce a tutorial for tools on Taproot Foundation’s website entitled, So You’re Ready to think About Bringing Pro Bono Service into your Organization? I was writing, editing, rewriting, recording, re-recording, cringing at my own voice, all as expected. Over and over and over, I heard myself talking about the importance of pro bono service, how to get started on a project and where to look for providers. Over and over and over.
So, I did a little self-reflection. Currently I provide free marketing and communications support on a project for Scholars at Risk, a New York City human rights organization. That makes me a pro bono consultant. Check. Prior to that, I served on the Board of BeyondAutism UK, where I was specifically brought on to use my marketing skills. Nonprofit marketing board service. Check. But being in the nonprofit sector myself, what have I done to secure pro bono resources for my own organization? Oh that.
Solving capacity needs with pro bono
Taproot Foundation engages design, marketing, IT, strategic management, and human resources professionals in pro bono to build the infrastructure of other nonprofits. Our website is the marketplace for all things pro bono. Though the organization practices what we preach, and overall roughly 25% of our budget is secured through pro bono resources, what did I bring in?
It was time to get on it.
What’s my burning project need? How do I define the scope of work? Do I have time to manage it? Who do I need to involve in my organization? What outcomes do I want to achieve? Where do I look for people? How do I want to structure the engagement? Do I want a team of people or an individual?
Baby steps. I needed support on Search Engine Optimization. That’s a burning need, but a lousy, ill-defined scope. So, because it is a burning need, we carved out the time to narrowly define the scope, give it some structure and think about the best place to look for people. I called NPower.
NPower–Community Corp. Program provides access to skilled technology professionals. Perfect. In a few weeks, I was paired with my pro bono consultant, a JP Morgan employee based in India, and we set up a 30-minute introductory meeting.
Off to a good start.