Pro Bono Reflections....
Liveryman Steve Cant - on his first months as Chair of the Pro Bono Committee, 2017....
Just over two months into my tenure as Chair of the Pro Bono committee I thought I’d share a few reflections on my experiences so far. The first thing to say is how much I’ve enjoyed talking to the CEOs, Chairs, managers and other trustees who have contacted us. Without fail they are all really passionate about what they, and their charities, do and they are all excited about, and grateful for, the prospect of getting some professional advice and support for free - subject, as they recognise, to reimbursing our expenses. The first I know about these charities is when they contact us via our website - but I’m aware that many of our members are involved much earlier and steer people towards the website. That’s the way to do it, so please keep up the good work of pointing charities in the right direction.
Second I was very pleasantly surprised by the strong response to my first “request for help” email. I had twelve expressions of interest for three opportunities which gave me some “resource allocation” challenges and I’m sorry that some willing volunteers were disappointed. Unfortunately the bubble soon burst as my second “Help” email produced only a couple of responses and I have one current opportunity that sounds really interesting but has no takers – see below.
There is a steady stream of sensible, well-articulated, requests for help as I explained at the New Members' Reception on 9th March where I was pleased to meet so many people interested in getting involved in Pro Bono consulting. It would be nice to think that some of those people might now respond to this request for help.
Somewhat surprisingly I have found that even my early conversations with charities can seem to add value. I’ve had two where a little gentle probing and challenge has led the requesting Charity to “think again” which is a much better outcome than wasting everyone’s time. One such case has subsequently come back with a much better articulated request – watch this space.
Perhaps less surprising is the high level of practical and mentoring support I’ve had from colleagues on the Pro Bono committee, especially the past Chairs. A big thank you to them.
Here’s that opportunity where we can’t yet find a willing volunteer:
Doorstep Library Network - Established in 2010, Doorstep has grown to supporting 400+ children a week across 6 “projects”. [A project is defined as "a targeted local area of deprivation"]. The Charity has recently expanded (from Hammersmith & Fulham) into Westminster, with five projects starting in the borough in the next 3 years. It regularly receives requests to run projects in other areas and is keen to put in place a plan for scaling-up to meet those requests. Doorstep is keen to establish the best route forward and is looking for a consultant who can work with the Director and perhaps a sub-committee of the Trustees to plan for expansion which might include into other cities as well as London Boroughs. I think this could be a great opportunity to help a successful charity to grow. More information at: http://www.doorsteplibrary.org.uk/
If you think you could help please do let me know!
Steve Cant, Liveryman - Chair, Pro Bono Committee