A short while ago, we launched a set of features on our intranet aimed at creating a more connected community of pro bono consultants. You can read a bit more in this blog post from last month.
Since then we have seen a flurry, albeit a small one, of discussion. It’s been so exciting to see our pro bono consultants interacting with each other that we decided to spotlight a couple of our favorite posters.
Note: Our online community is currently open only to our screened and registered pro bono consultants. If that’s you, join in! Lend your expertise!
Skip Winitsky – Taproot Foundation Account Director in New York
Skip is a marketing consultant specializing in branding, messaging, and digital media strategies. He has completed two projects as an Account Director and currently has two more under way.
Skip posted a question about meeting in-person as opposed to virtually and got 20 thoughtful responses including:
- “Meeting in person: Working as a project manager for Taproot, I preferred to have the initial team (Taproot team only) meeting in person. I found that this was a better way to get to know the team members, have them get to know me and exchange ideas…”
- “We have weekly check-in calls and once the project meat starts, we meet about every 3 weeks or as needed. Virtual is good for discussions, but when it comes to the content of a project, it’s much better to meet in person, because then you have an instant connection to what you are talking about and looking at.”
Skip also asked another question about staffing project teams. It gets right to the heart of his role as an Account Director. We are thrilled to see so much discussion about such an important part of the Service Grant process. Below is one great answer:
- “My approach to staffing is simple. I focus on the team, experience and passion. First, I determine what skills will create the most effective and well-rounded group of individuals. This will ensure that there aren’t major gaps in skills. Don’t forget to assess yourself! Second, I make certain the volunteers I contact complement each other by selecting a range of industries, work experience, and Taproot status (veteran vs novice). Finally, when I talk to them I seek their passion! Does this project align with one of their interests/passion points? Would the role be a challenge to help them fill a career gap? Why do they want to help?”
This discussion is still open, so please weigh in!
Skip doesn’t just ask questions. He answers them too, addressing topics such as keeping teams on track and modifying the Discovery process in projects.
Why does Skip post questions and answer?
“It helps the movement and it helps others do better work.”
Gail Koff, Future Taproot Foundation Account Director in the Bay Area
Gail is retired and enjoying her travels around the world. In her professional life, she owned an HR consulting business for 23 years. She is eager to lead one of Taproot Foundation’s HR projects, but so far been unable because of her travel schedule. By posting questions, comments and suggestions, she is able to contribute to Taproot without being staffed on a project.
In preparation for her first project with Taproot, she posted a question about creating a sense of urgency on projects. She got some great responses. Among others, we love this one:
“I think it always helps to engage people on a one-on-one basis. Help them [the members of the nonprofit you are working with] feel that this is ‘their’ project, and that they are experts in the nonprofit field, and we are the tools they can use to communicate their expertise. We can make them look good! And if that fails, I have tried homemade chocolate chip cookies.”
Gail has also used her extensive experience as a consultant to weigh in on questions others have posed. “I felt I could add value because of my experience working in the public sector and answering questions has allowed me to stay engaged with Taproot.”
Gail and Skip represent very different perspectives on participating in our online community, but the result is still the same: they are engaging with their peers in a way that will benefit their projects, Taproot Foundation clients, and the pro bono movement.
Natalya “Natasha” Matusova is a Product Development Fellow at the Taproot Foundation.