For corporate pro bono practitioners, telling stories is critical. By communicating the impact of your pro bono programming effectively, you’ll promote your company’s social good initiatives both internally and externally. Those efforts can help elevate your company’s brand and position in the field—that’s the power of a good story.
But this guide is about more than just building brand and reputation. It’s about leveraging stories as a way to get C-suite buy-in for your initiatives. It’s about sharing stories that inspire employees to engagein your programs and become exceptional doers of pro bono. And it’s about telling the story of your program’s impact on the communities you serve so that you can continue doing work that makes a difference.
We at Taproot Foundation have picked up tips and tricks for impactful pro bono storytelling over the years. With some help from our friends at Edelman, VMware, and Morgan Stanley, we’re sharing insights we’ve gleaned from our experience with both pro bono programming and strategic communications. Our goal is simple—to equip practitioners with the skills they need to tell powerful stories that move the field forward.
Case Study: VMware Foundation
One of VMware Foundation’s recent storytelling efforts grew out of the creation of Transforming Technology Pro Bono, a series of guides designed in collaboration with Taproot to move the needle on tech adoption in the social sector. Over the course of the last three years, the Foundation embodied each step of the storytelling approach, highlighting how small but mighty teams can get the work done.
Building partnerships that resonate
One of VMware’s early efforts revolved around cultivating strong relationships across the company, but not just with the obvious players. “We worked very closely with our Global People Development team,” said Jessamine Chin, VMware Foundation’s Director. “This collaboration helped us tie our work to our Leadership Code”—a core part of the company’s culture—“which really resonates with employees.” The alignment was equally critical for connecting to the company’s bottom line. “From a brand perspective, the work we’re doing showcases who we are as a company and how those values translate to our business.”
The team also invested time and energy in partnering with their Global Communications department, keeping them abreast of all of the Foundation’s efforts and engaging them for key initiatives. Many years later, they now have a dedicated communications role supporting the Foundation. “Having [this role] on board has been instrumental in continuing to build our relationship with our Global Communications colleagues,” notes Chin.