New Tool to Help You Access Pro Bono Support


When asked “What support do you need?” do you ever respond “Where do I even start!” ?! Well, we might be able to help you with that... the Wallace Center has been working with the Taproot Foundation, an organization that connects non-profits with skilled volunteers, to develop a tool that can help you distill down your challenges into tangible, specific needs. Once you have a clearly articulated need, the Taproot Foundation can help match you with skilled professionals who will provide their expertise pro bono. The “Pro Bono + the Food Value Chain” tool is one of the outcomes of our first ever FSLN Meet Up at the National Good Food Network Conference in March 2018, where we worked alongside many of you to map out the needs and offerings of organizations working along and within the good food value chain. (Take a look at the photos – from stickies to structure, thank you for your time and insight!) We analyzed your input and realized that the needs of our sector can generally be organized in three buckets: Models (enter definition here), Tools (same), and Skills (same). By taking a “Models, Tools, and Skills” approach to disaggregating your capacity needs, macro challenges can be translated into more specific, tangible needs. Let’s take an example… Say you’re a food hub, and you have great product and want to reach new audiences to increase your sales. Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as it sounds and you’re finding it difficult to build up demand for all your yummy produce and meats and truly connect with your customers. As you think about your challenge, you realize that it would be great to connect with and learn from a food hub that is excellent at reaching new audiences. (That’s your model!) Asking more questions will take you further – multi-lingual signage and branding materials would be useful for you to share your message with the community. (Some tools!) So what skills are needed to create the signage that will truly connect with your customer? Understanding and fostering community leadership and buy-in for new food businesses is essential to the ultimate success of the food hub. (Skills!) Using this framework, you’ll be able to identify and work through a key organizational challenge and develop a clearly outlined project scope that can be tackled with pro bono expertise. Even if pro bono isn’t the direction you’d like to go, this tool offers a new way of thinking about the challenges you face, and provides a framework breaking down your organization’s unique and multifaceted challenges into more clearly defined projects and needs. So, how can you use this tool help you think about your challenges differently? (And to tap into and leverage the pro bono support available to you!) It involves a few questions and analysis - you can use the examples within the tool for inspiration! Step 1: Take some time to identify the (one) key challenge you’d like support with: • Think of where you operate along the value chain – do you operate across several categories or within one? • Identify a few key challenges, but then make sure you narrow it down to the key challenge that your organization must accomplish to be able to do its job well! Step 2: Now that you’ve identified a challenge, think about some models, programs, or best practices that could be used to solve your challenge. • Are there any models out there that you’d like to implement, modify, or learn more about? • Are there others you have you looked to in the past for advice? Why? What has been useful? Step 3: Got a model in mind? Time to think of the tools that model needs to be successful. • What tools will you need to implement the model? • Is there a specific tool that is critical for the successful adaption of the program? Step 4: Now that we’ve narrowed down the challenge, and identified some key models and tools to help us solve the challenge, let’s identify the skills that are needed for doing this successfully. • What skills are needed to implement the model? To most effectively use the tools? Step 5: Head on over to Taproot+ (https://taprootfoundation.org/nonprofits/ ) and register your organization, design your project and ask, and get matched with skilled volunteers that can help you achieve your goal.

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