Throw it on the wall and see what sticks – that has always been my motto! The concept that no idea is a bad idea, that you need to explore all possibilities and opportunities, that you need to throw ideas up on the wall and run them down to determine which one you want to make happen.
This year was my second year attending the corporate track of the Global Pro Bono Summit. I was one of very few East Coasters there, and I questioned whether the fever for skills based volunteerism would be the same on the West Coast.
Silly me. The bug was alive and well. My counterparts were ready to engage in lively and constructive conversation about the impressive projects they had brewing in their organizations.
At the Summit, I was home! Home with Taproot’s post-it note culture, which brings my “see what sticks” motto to life. Home with a group of peers who were ready to explore possibilities and discuss opportunities to further harness the power of Pro Bono.
Developing the Pro Bono Challenge
The Summit for the past two years has been a tremendous support for me as I conceptualized and launched our first skills-based program at MasterCard: the Pro Bono Challenge. When we started our program, we immediately brought in our talent development team as partners in program design and implementation. Our premise? We knew we needed to engage the folks who understood the talent within our organization in order to provide quality services to our nonprofit partners. And we also believed in the potential of pro bono as a vehicle to develop our organization’s promising talent.
Honestly, we had no idea if anyone else had taken a similar approach, and what pitfalls to avoid. Those answers I began to uncover at the Pro Bono Summit. The Summit allowed me to benchmark with countless corporations – sometimes competitors – in an easy, open and safe environment where everyone was encouraged to share. It created a space where I could learn from the successes and challenges faced by organizations that were further along in their skills-based volunteering journey. And most importantly, it helped me make informed decisions on how to move MasterCard’s Pro Bono Challenge program forward.
Reflecting on the Summit
Now for the San Francisco Summit’s bright spots:
- Seeing a number of HR professionals in the room engaged in the discussion, and prepared to champion skills based volunteerism
- New ideas about how to build our program at MasterCard, and some solace that the challenges I face are shared by many in their respective organizations
- Learning how to sign the song “If You’re Going to San Francisco” with my buddy Kim Gillman from Taproot
And the flip side of the coin: the Summit’s dark spots:
- The drought could have held on for a few more days so I could regain some vitamin D!
- Riding in circles trying to find the Presidio Institute, where our welcome reception was held
To end on a high note: I look forward to the Summit next year. Our organization will be more mature in the development of our Pro Bono Challenge program. I will have more questions, more ideas – and I’ll need more support. And I know that my friends at Taproot and the community of skills-based organizations will be ready to provide support!
Monica Chaves is Senior Program Officer at MasterCard.