We’ve asked corporate and intermediary leaders who participated in Taproot Foundation’s Global Pro Bono Summit to share the insights that they took away from their experience. This convening encouraged participants to develop a shared vision to make the talents and skills of the business community accessible to organizations working for our collective good. We’ve heard from Npower; next up, one of our corporate leaders, Erin Dieterich of Netsuite.
As a new transplant to California, I’ll admit it; I wasn’t looking forward to flying back to NYC to attend a conference. All I could think of was the potential for freezing rain, flight delays and grey days.
But ten minutes into this year’s Global Pro Bono Summit, I’ve forgotten all about the chill. Between the incredible group of pro bono peers, leadership from Taproot, and stunning views from the Jewish Heritage Museum, not even the darkest of winter blues could exist.
And let’s be honest, I love events like this. In the often chaotic pace of our professional day to day, we rarely take time to sit with our peers, share ideas and brainstorm ways we can help one another. While our companies may compete for customers, I’ve always been a big proponent that our CSR programs shouldn’t specially when it comes to pro bono. After all, there is an unlimited need for pro bono in the nonprofit marketplace, and there’s no reason we can’t tackle that need together. It’s clear that to find the sweet spot of pro bono, we must share our ideas and engage with one another to design, execute, and grow strong programs.
One of our sessions resulted in what could be a big, game changing idea. Building upon Taproot’s current tools, what if, by working together we could not just improve our programs, but bring them together, creating a powerful cross industry solution? What if we could come together as a 360 degree “consultancy” for pro bono, and what if organizations wanting to tap into that resource had a clear one stop shop that they could go to. That’s where the idea of the online pro bono marketplace comes in.
Our rousing brainstorm set the groundwork for what could become a very powerful tool. It was the idea that I kept finding myself mulling on the flight home, how powerful would it be to bring all of our services and programs together in one place. What if we could transform an online listing of services, to a destination that would triage those seeking pro bono and guide them to the right solution? If we could figure out exactly what each organization needs and provide verification for their readiness, we could increase the overall success of our programs, and greatly scale the amount of pro bono we provide to the sector.
I love board games, so humor me with this Trivial Pursuit analogy. Let’s imagine that the online pro bono marketplace is the game board and it’s operated by a fantastic set of expert referees who know all of the rules. To play, each organization has to lay out their needs to the refs and achieve verification (represented here by the empty pie wheel). Now they are officially a player. If each of our corporate pro bono programs was represented by a different wedge colors, (each providing a different expertise) the player could easily move around the board, picking up the pieces that they needed the most. And for those who could pick up a full wheel of projects, they’re be the big winners!
Board games aside, an online marketplace, staffed by triage experts, would allow us to find nonprofit partners who were ready to receive our employees’ skills, and would allow non-profits to better navigate our programs. It’s just an idea now, but it’s something that I hope one day becomes a reality, and with the incredible group of people that Taproot was able to bring together over four days this February, I’m pretty confident that it won’t be a dream for long.
-Erin Dieterich, Employee Engagement Manager, NetSuite.org
Erin Dieterich believes all companies have the opportunity to make a positive impact on society, and that pro bono is a powerful way to make a mark. As the Global Employee Engagement Manager at NetSuite, Erin designs and executes CSR programs including the pro bono SuiteVolunteers; previously, she worked at Discovery Communications where she launched the award-winning Creating Change pro bono marathon.