‘Tis the session for strategic planning.
This year companies are looking at how to do more with less. But more with less doesn’t mean compromising or scaling back ambitions. It means finding the programs or investments that allow you to reach multiple goals at once or, as we call it, the triple win. And that means pro bono service.
Pro bono service–donating one’s professional expertise for social change–is a creative way to simultaneously achieve a variety of corporate goals.
Skeptical? Let’s look at common corporate goals and why pro bono service is key to helping you achieve them.
Your Goal: Promote corporate values
Almost all companies have a set of corporate values. Likely it’s an acronym (LEAD, INSPIRE, THRIVE) that makes it easy for everyone to remember. Values are the essence of a company and shouldn’t be taken lightly. But how do you go from simply having words on a page to creating values that are embodied by and continually reinforced among your people?
Your Solution: Pro bono service allows employees to live the values
The best way to connect employees to your corporate values is to give them the chance to exhibit them. For instance, if your company values passion and humility, pro bono service allows people to exhibit a commitment to community and drive change in collaboration with community members. If you value respect or customer service, pro bono service is an opportunity to engage with and deeply partner with a range of constituents. If you value fun and not taking yourself too seriously? Pro bono service has that covered too.
Your Goal: Develop the global competencies needed for tomorrow’s leaders
The future of work is upon us. There is a new set of skillsets and aptitudes that employees will need to lead in 2020. While many companies recognize the changing context, few are actively (and adequately) preparing for the anticipated shifts in our work environment. How can companies cultivate these competencies while also giving employees the opportunity to practice them?
Your solution: Pro bono service builds competencies through experiential learning
Classroom training can only go so far. Pro bono helps employees develop the crucial social organizational skills they will need to succeed in a future of flat management structures, virtual work environments and cross-functional collaboration. In other words, it gives them the chance to both develop and practice the skills we all will need in 2020. Pro bono projects are intensive creative problem solving exercises that can engage employees in new ways of working and thinking.
Your Goal: Foster innovation and encourage individual contributions
Consider the concepts of an intrepreneur or a culture of inclusion. While the purpose (and importance) of both these concepts is much bigger, they have a commonality: a culture that aims to encourage the contributions of all individuals. Empowering every employee to put forward his or her best thinking is crowd-sourcing at its finest. Encouraging a more diverse, broader spread of ideas better positions your company to find the most game-changing ideas for your business. Unfortunately, you don’t breed the “individual contributor” mindset by simply telling people you appreciate their ideas. How can companies create opportunities that reflect their commitment to individual initiative and ownership?
Your solution: Pro bono service is a chance to practice ownership and initiative
Companies need to promote the necessary ingredients and environments for innovation and a culture of inclusion to grow. Pro bono service gives volunteers an opportunity to own and drive outcomes. It gives individuals the chance to problem solve and apply their knowledge in new contexts. These opportunities all happen within an environment of positivity that creates a safe space for creative thinking and individual contributions.
In this time of thinking and planning for the future, many of us get caught up (and bogged down) by what we have the bandwidth or budget to do. We end up limiting our aspirations or reigning in our vision because we feel we need to “prioritize.” Pro bono can help you break free of those restraints. Pro bono service is a means to help you connect and unify your goals, not temper them.
So as you plan for 2017, consider doing more with less without compromising employee satisfaction, business value, or community impact. Consider pro bono service.
About the Author
Ava Kuhlen is Director of Advisory Services and External Affairs for Taproot Foundation. She has over a decade of experience influencing the relationships between key players in the social sector and connecting larger networks of people and resources all working for social impact. Her personal 2017 goal for Taproot is to secure a photo of Bono (of U2 fame) holding a sign that says “Do pro bono.”