This is an excerpt from the Taproot’s Building Resiliency Through Pro Bono resource.
To develop a fuller understanding and appreciation of the vibrant art and culture of the Caribbean, look no further than Braata Productions. Their nonprofit is dedicated to bringing Caribbean folk culture, visual art, music, stories, movement, and theatre into prominence by uplifting Caribbean and Caribbean-American artists and giving them a platform to share their voice.
A little bit of everything
Andrew Clarke, Braata Productions’ Founder and Executive Director, initially sought out pro bono support due to capacity needs. “We started using pro bono in mid-2018. Frankly, we needed the help. As our programs expanded, the workload grew.” Their small-but-mighty team includes just one full-time staff member, two part-time employees, and a board of directors that together handle community outreach and artistic programs spanning three New York City boroughs. Clarke noted that “having professionals skilled in particular areas was a necessary step to ensure that our work remained so high-quality.”
Be prepared to give your pro bono partner the attention and information they need because time is money, and you are receiving time, value, and talent at no cost. Use it wisely. Maximize the time!” – Andrew Clarke, Founder and Executive Director, Braata Productions
Clarke and his team have made frequent use of virtual pro bono support, teaming up with volunteers for projects in board recruitment and development, copywriting, and project management. But it was their work developing a marketing plan with a volunteer for their 10th anniversary that immediately jumped out as an example of a project that helped them build much-needed capacity. “Our pro bono partner totally exceeded expectations. After working with her, we emerged with new skills that we continue to use as a team long after our project wrapped.”
Investing in the future
COVID-19 has led to shifts in programming for organizations like Braata Productions, but it has also provided an opportunity for them to focus internally and invest in their own long-term capacity. Clarke shared that “for many of us, this downtime can be used to assess, fix, remedy, improve, or create operations systems.” He offered this advice, especially to leaders of small organizations: “Arm yourself with the skills you need to survive this trying time through pro bono so that when we emerge on the other side of this pandemic, you’ll run more efficiently and effectively than before.”