This week I went on a pro bono tour that took me around the world. In awareness of my ecological footprint, though, I decided to stay in the Taproot office in NYC and only travel to the countries via Skype. Using Taproot’s network of international Pro Bono Junkies, I tried to identify the key elements of a successful pro bono fellowship program, while assessing the potential challenges of scaling it globally. Some highlights:
From Ikuma – Pro Bono Junkie and founder of Service Grant Tokyo – I learned that it needs a lot of endurance. Also I learned about an interesting growth strategy. Service Grant Tokyo (beyond its two offices in Tokyo and Osaka) is partnering with different municipalities by training staff of “volunteer centers” to manage their own pro bono projects. This way operational costs are kept down while the idea is scaled.
From Michael, of For Good Advice in Denmark, I learned about his network-based NGO that consults NGOs and Social Entrepreneurs to boost their impact. He focuses on how to incorporate business perspectives into social goals, thus creating a self-sustainable model for pro bono initiatives.
Next week the journey takes me to Singapore, Sweden, China and France. I am excited to get a glimpse on their experiences too, and I find myself wondering whether there are patterns emerging in the pro bono efforts across national boundaries. One pattern I have identified already: all Pro Bono Junkies I have met so far, regardless of where there were, had a huge drive to make it matter.
Armin Pialek is the first Fellow in a pilot joint venture between Taproot and the BMW Foundation. He is working to first bring pro bono to Germany, and then to replicate the model to engage Fellows to develop pro bono with Taproot and the BMW Foundation around the globe.