Taproot New York recently hosted a lunch in honor of the Founder’s Circle: New York’s top pro bono consultants, each of whom have completed over 700 hours of service (at least 7 projects) with Taproot! Their commitment to pro bono is truly inspiring.
After lunch, we asked them a few questions about their involvement with Taproot and what keeps them coming back for more!
How did you get involved with Taproot originally, and what has kept you engaged for so long?
Susan Vitucci : I remember seeing the posting on the Creative Hotlist and I thought [it was] a real “win-win” situation. I was working alone and I prefer to work with teams of people that are like minded. I knew I could pump up my resume and do world class work for Orgs who otherwise could not afford it.
Merryl Rosenthal : I saw the Taproot ad among job postings, and it occurred to me that, in addition to donating money to organizations I support, I could offer my services. The projects are so rewarding and such fun that I keep coming back for more.
What is the most rewarding part of being on a Taproot project?
Skip Winitsky : Helping the NPO achieve its mission. Doing the best work you can for an org that both appreciates and needs it.
Maureen Naff : I love the early stages of a project when professional bios are circulating. I’m always amazed at the talent and experience of the collective teams. Then, when a project really kicks off, not a meeting goes by where I don’t jot down an idea to take back to the office, pick up a new presentation tip or latch onto a new buzzword. I’ve been in scientific publishing for over a decade but I don’t feel like I have industry tunnel-vision because I’m constantly interacting with professionals outside of my industry via Taproot.
Pamela Skillings : For me, the most rewarding part is expanding my horizons beyond my daily influences. I learn from getting to know client staffers passionate about their organizations. I learn from doing the project work, which challenges me to understand and relate to different people and situations.
How has being a pro bono consultant with Taproot affected other areas of your life?
April Kobeda : It has affected other areas of my life in that I’ve gained lasting friendships with people from my team, I’ve garnered freelance work, and my network of contacts in general becomes expanded. I’ve met a lot of smart people from both Taproot and the non-profits and have learned from their expertise as well.
Susan Vitucci : It made me better at what I do. It made me a better person. In the past (more times than I like to admit) I was ashamed of what I was “selling”. Not a good feeling. A Taproot Grant at its most difficult is a million times better than being embarrassed about how you spend your day.
Stephanie Forman : Learning from my fellow volunteer team helps to expand my skill set. I love learning about the org – their challenges, their triumphs. It is a great networking opportunity and making new friends who are like minded is wonderful.
What has been your favorite Taproot project moment or memory?
Skip Winitsky : When the Board Chair of a 150 year old cultural org told me “we get this right this time or we go out of business.” And then six months later when they realized that the work we did could (and did) help them turn the corner.
Pamela Skillings : I always love the ending stages of a project, when the Taproot team hands over the final deliverables that the organization will be able to implement. It’s extremely rewarding to hear the client team talk about how they will use the work and how much they appreciate it. On a purely selfish note, I once won U.S. Open tickets in a raffle at a client event. That was pretty cool too.
What advice would you give to a new pro bono consultant?
April Kobeda : …if by chance your first project has some bumps or glitches to not let that dissuade you from taking on a second project. Every project is vastly different, that’s what makes it interesting and engaging.
Amy Hecht : I think the initial blueprint/understanding/project brief materials can seem daunting. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Rely on your team and follow the steps one at a time. Taproot and your clients understand that you are volunteering your knowledge and service, and they have made it manageable with great support staff. So just enjoy it!