This is a part of Taproot’s series featuring resilient nonprofit leaders. Download the nonprofit resource, Building Resiliency Through Pro Bono, for additional project highlights and nonprofit case studies.
Postcolonial Networks is a nonprofit that celebrates, cultivates, and distributes the work of scholars who write in the contexts of Africa, Asia, and South America. And pro bono has become a key resource for their capacity-building efforts, ultimately supporting their mission to amplify voices that are often overlooked.
Knowledge is borderless
Postcolonial Networks’ Founder Joseph Duggan and his team deeply believe that “knowledge is borderless.” Their mission is to change the way knowledge is cultivated, produced, and distributed in order to actively challenge power structures that create injustice for authors. But while knowledge is indeed borderless, resources are often limited for organizations like theirs.
Postcolonial Networks tackles their mission with a surprisingly small staff—a core team of three people is supported by as many as a dozen volunteers for special projects. Not long ago a funding roadblock prompted them to find ways to lower costs without reducing impact or over-burdening staff. Pro bono turned out to be just the resource they were looking for.
“Take the time to work with your volunteers. Invest in developing a relationship with them and give them opportunities to get to know your organization, your team, or even the founder or leader.” – Joseph Duggan, Founder, Postcolonial Networks
They started by setting up a Taproot Plus request for a volunteer to work on a copyediting project that would keep their publications-in-progress moving forward despite the lack of funding. It wasn’t long before they connected with a volunteer and got to work! Duggan explained that when they needed that essential support, “Taproot was a lifeline that helped us sustain our mission through lean donor years.”
Pro bono in motion (picture)
But the story doesn’t end there! Soon after completing that first project, Postcolonial Networks kicked off several pro bono projects to help organize and fuel fundraising efforts. A video storytelling project stood out to Duggan as one of the most helpful and highly visible pro bono projects they’ve completed so far. The two-minute video tells the story of our Global South authors, their needs, their scarcity of books, and the lack of other resources that hinders successful publishing. The video has had multiple benefits since then, solidifying their branding, serving as a board training tool, and—most importantly—helping them share their vision around the world.
So far Postcolonial Networks has worked with virtual volunteers through Taproot on six projects valued at over $35,000, each of which has helped them build resiliency as an organization while keeping operational costs low.
Passing on knowledge
Over the past year many organizations have struggled to make up for drastic shifts in fundraising, capacity, and operations. Duggan’s advice for fellow nonprofits going through a period of change? “Try to see this time as an opportunity to pivot to solving new needs. People are anxious, but now is a time not to waste as we create a new world and a new normal.”
Postcolonial Networks and nonprofits like them have worked hard to adapt and continue serving others during this extremely challenging time. In doing so, they have found ways to incorporate tools like pro bono into their projects, handled difficulties they’re currently facing, and built a more resilient infrastructure for the future.