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Celebrating the Power of Pro Bono in Difficult Times

By Common Impact | October 26, 2020

Charles Schwab Pro Bono Challenge 2020 – Richfield, TX

It’s Pro Bono Week! But this one looks unlike any other we’ve experienced before. Instead of large skilled volunteering events or gathering by the hundreds in event spaces for keynotes on social impact, we’re logging on to video calls from our homes or mostly empty offices. Handshakes have been replaced by waves on screens. Digital breakout rooms are the new space for collaboration.

In spite of the fact that we can’t be together in person, people from all different sectors, industries, causes, and regions have still joined forces to participate in pro bono and build stronger, healthier, more prosperous communities.

Our corporate partners have continued and even increased their commitments to service. Nonprofits have made capacity building a priority and opened up about difficult challenges they are facing. Individuals are stepping away from their work from home setups, distance learning monitor roles, or election newsfeeds (or all three!) to use their professional talents to make a difference. We are so proud of the ways our partners, volunteers, and staff have stepped up this year and especially this Pro Bono Week. Here are some of the many initiatives we’re celebrating right now!

Making Good Happen at Work (Tuesday, October 27)

Our annual Making Good Happen at Work event in partnership with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation is designed to help business leaders and CSR managers build effective employee engagement and corporate philanthropy programs and adapt them to changing community needs. This year’s sessions also incorporate topics like building an anti-racist work culture, navigating the intersection of racial justice and philanthropy, and continuing service programs during the pandemic.

We’re excited to welcome to the virtual stage keynote speaker Bea Boccolandro, President & Founder of workplace purpose consulting firm Vera Works and author of Do Good at Work; Atyia Martin, CEO & Founder of All Aces, Inc.; Anusha Venkataraman, NYC Chief Service Officer with the NYC Office of the Mayor; Rachel Hutchisson, Head of CSR at Blackbaud; Gary Levante, Head of Culture, Berkshire Bank; Amanda Lenaghan, Head of Social Impact, Cruise; and Farron Levy, Founder & CEO, True Impact.

It’s not too late to join the event! Register now to access sessions with these social impact leaders and receive a copy of Making Good Happen 2, the second edition of a toolkit designed to help businesses build successful employee service and giving programs.

Skills for Cities 2020 – Keeping Promises (Friday, October 30)

In addition to COVID-19, 2020 has been defined by acts of violence against Black people, a resurgence in the racial justice movement, and new conversations about the centuries-old challenge of systemic racism. These overlapping issues have taken an especially heavy toll on Black Americans and communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and resulting economic downturn. In line with our mission to alleviate inequality, this year’s Skills for Cities day of cross-sector collaboration is dedicated to addressing the unique challenges that racial equity and BIPOC-led nonprofits are facing right now. Volunteers from 11 companies including John Hancock, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Citizens, State Street Corporation, and ViacomCBS will work in cross-company teams to support 14 nonprofits on projects such as conducting a website assessment, creating a communications plan template, and developing a corporate partnership strategy.

Charles Schwab Pro Bono Challenge

This year, in light of additional needs created by COVID-19 and the switch to a fully virtual event, the Charles Schwab Pro Bono Challenge has been extended from one week to a full month, with programming running from mid-October to mid-November. Skilled volunteers from nine regions across the country are working on 67 projects to support local nonprofits’ COVID-19 responses, racial justice work, service to military families and veterans, and more.

During Pro Bono Week, skilled volunteers from Charles Schwab’s Westlake, Texas location will develop a financial model template for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County, document a new fundraising strategy adapted for COVID-19 to support SCORE Fort Worth, create a communications plan for the timely and in-demand services of Financial Hope Credit Counseling, and more.

Fidelity Impact Week

This annual, nationwide skills-based volunteering event has been reimagined as ten distinct weeks of programming from August through early 2021. Fidelity employees are volunteering on 81 projects with nonprofits including Food Bank for NYC, United Way of Rhode Island, and Junior Achievement of Utah. The first week of pro bono projects was dedicated to supporting nonprofits with COVID-19 response and resiliency and another focuses on promoting racial justice and equity.

This week, Fidelity skilled volunteers wrap projects such as a marketing strategy to help 100 Black Men of Triangle East scale outreach for its virtual gala, DEI policy recommendations in support of the Denver Scholarship Foundation’s new equity and inclusion statement, and a website assessment for The BASE.

Fidelity also celebrates the 10th anniversary of its ASPIRE employee resource group (ERG) for Black and Latinx employees, which started as a gathering of just 50 people and is now 5,000 strong!

Listen to our recent episode of the Pro Bono Perspectives podcast featuring Wendy John, Fidelity Investments’ Head of Global Diversity & Inclusion, to learn more about Impact Week, ASPIRE, and how Fidelity is promoting racial justice and other urgent causes year-round.

Thank you to all who will make a difference this Pro Bono Week 2020! To learn more about skills-based volunteering opportunities for your company so you can be part of next year’s celebration, contact Katie Stearns.

Curious about the value of a pro bono project you’re planning or recently completed? Access our new report, Insights & Impact 2020: Measuring the Social Impact of Volunteerism, and register for our free webinar on November 12 with Common Impact CEO Danielle Holly and True Impact Founder & CEO Farron Levy to learn about the measurement frameworks enclosed.