Our Initiatives


Anmol Mehra

Board Chair, Urbanity Dance

Anmol is the Board of Directors for a growing Boston-area nonprofit, Urbanity Dance, that inspires, engages, and emplowers individuals and communities through the art of dance and movement.

Urbanity's staff developed a skill set that they didn't have before and it made them even more effective in their jobs.

Describe your work and what drives you.

I had been a supporter of the arts for quite some time and was always interested in the theater, art, and music while I was growing up. Four years ago, I met Betsi Graves, the founder of Urbanity Dance and was really impressed by what she and the organization had already accomplished. I joined the Board at a point where the organization had no employees, no office, no studio. Betsi wanted to take the organization to a new level.

It has been eye-opening that I have areas of expertise that is of real value to the community. Board service, to me, has been about helping the organization to grow by making sure it adheres to its value system and is financially sound. It’s been rewarding to watch the organization succeed and grow.

It’s refreshing to be involved in a really small organization where your thoughts and ideas get implemented and you can see the impact really quickly. 

What was your first exposure to Pro Bono?

Common Impact was really my first introduction to Skills-Based volunteering. I had heard of pro bono in the legal profession, but it didn’t become real to me until I knew of this specific opportunity in my community.

Why did you become “hooked” on Pro Bono / Skills-Based Volunteering?

As I was learning more about the potential of Skills-Based volunteers, I started thinking about how it could be helpful in building the capacity of Urbanity Dance during a critical time in the organization’s lifecycle. Urbanity was growing financially and getting a bit more complex. Despite my financial background, we needed help building our financial systems, for day to day management and strategic decision making.

The use of a team of corporate finance professionals was a great experience, and an opportunity to leverage the expertise of people that were willing to provide their services at almost no cost. Common Impact made sure the team had the right skills, stayed engaged throughout, and that the project progressed as planned.

Our initial project helped lay the infrastructure for what we do now – without this resource, this would have cost us a lot of time and money, neither of which we had.

What benefit do companies get out of Skills-Based volunteering? What can a nonprofit environment "teach" a business?

I work at a large company and I really enjoy my work – but I am a tiny cog in a really big wheel. For corporate Skills-Based volunteers, working on a nonprofit project with a tangible goal provides an opportunity to see the impact you’re having on an organization. And, when you’re working towards that goal with a team of your colleagues, there’s a sense of camaraderie built up between team members that may not have worked together before. It reengages you in your work. It puts a magnifying glass on the skills you already have and develops new skills.

What has been most rewarding about participating in a Pro Bono program?

The two pro bono projects that we’ve done were very important to the organization. We didn’t have the expertise, time or budget to implement them ourselves. At the same time, our own staff members grew their skills as a result. They developed a different skill set that they didn’t have before, functional areas that they didn’t have and made them even more effective in their jobs. So, not only did we get these projects accomplished – we built up our own longer-term capacity to sustain the organization.

What was most challenging, in your role, about leveraging or participating in a Pro Bono program?

We could have done a better job investing time in the project at the beginning. We would have spent more time upfront planning, scoping, and ensuring we were available to answer the team’s questions. We also would make sure we were looking not just 3 or 6 months ahead, but 2 or 3 years ahead. On our second project, we were able to put forth more time upfront to understand the scope of the project and make it work even better than the first.

It’s so important to understand the time that is involved and the effort needed to manage a team.

If someone was in your shoes, looking to get started with Skills-Based volunteering for the first time, what advice would you give or tool would you point them to?

I’d talk to other nonprofits that have utilized Common Impact or other organizations that have taken on a Skills-Based volunteering project. It’s so important to understand the time that is involved and the effort needed to manage a team. It requires an honest assessment with the board and the staff to figure out why you are seeking this help and why it’s important.

If Pro Bono were a celebrity, who would it be and why?

Kevin Durant, NBA superstar on the Oklahoma City Thunder, because he takes his fame and channels it to benefit the people in his community that need it most through his charitable foundation. And he teaches kids basketball – now that’s a Skills-Based volunteer experience I would have fun with!

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