[10.05.10]
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Pro Bono Consulting: Is It Right For You?

taproot, larisa gurnick,  pro bono, consulting, job searchThe quote in the image (left) is from the Taproot Foundation website.  And if you read my post from earlier today, you’ll understand a little bit about how Taproot works.  If not, here’s how you can catch up:

Giving Back Pro Bono Style: Via Taproot

It was about how they tap business professionals to support the significant needs of the non-profit community.  Via pro bono consulting.

This post picks up where the last left off.

And it should help you understand whether participating in a project is up your alley.

For this post, I interviewed Larisa Gurnick.  Larisa is a senior executive looking for her next role and is currently working on two projects (called service grants) with Taproot in the Los Angeles area.

Larisa’s career focus is on strategic planning and marketing – a good fit with two of Taproot’s key service areas.  She was last with the National Notary Association as their CEO and has also worked within the banking and non-profit sectors.

Larisa has volunteered before as a board member for non-profits.  But her interest in making a difference was not met with enough value.  And often that interest was left frustrated.

What does she like about Taproot?

One word: PROCESS

The structure is already there.  The relationship with the non-profit already built.  And the support is there on each and every project.

Taproot narrows the scope of the projects – important since, according to Larisa, “it is easy to get distracted in the non-profit world”.  Big projects are broken down into smaller, easier to chew pieces.

Larisa operates as an Account Director for Taproot, the highest level for pro bono consultants.  And she is currently working two separate service grants.

Her experience with scheduling pro bono service and managing a successful job search effort?  Not a problem.  Because it is “easy to move things around to make it work”.  But she also warns against joining for perceived networking benefits or to have something to do (or fill a gap on your resume).  Those are “not good reasons to join”.

Here are Larisa’s 5 reasons to consider applying for a Taproot project:

  1. It’s a confidence builder
  2. Keep your skills fresh
  3. Give back to the world (yes, you still have value to offer)
  4. Build influencing skills – since no one reports to you
  5. Let’s you see a variety of organizations

And one aspect of her work with Taproot surprised her.  She now has a “renewed faith in people and process”.  She has seen great leadership but more powerful than that?  She’s part of a self-selected group of “like minded people wanting to do a good job”.

Her role as an Account Director with Taproot has allowed her some room to choose projects that suit her interests.  As a pro bono team member, she says that you are selected for projects based on need.  In fact, you may not have a number of projects from which to choose.  You might wait for weeks or months after your orientation before being tapped.

I hope my conversation with Anne in part 1 and Larisa here has provided a good sense of pro bono consulting with Taproot.

If you are interested in giving back and have the time/passion, I hope you will give Taproot a look.

Remember, the need is great.  And you will likely get a great reward in return.

Are you a Taproot pro bono consultant?  Tell me about your experience.

Larisa Gurnick is a senior executive with over fifteen years of experience in strategy, marketing and operations in banking, non-profit membership associations, and professional services.  Most recently, Larisa was the CEO of the National Notary Association, where she refocused the membership organization on its core mission of providing education and support to nearly 5 million US notaries, as well as serving the employers of notaries with risk-management solutions.  Currently, Larisa is a pro-bono consultant with Taproot Foundation, leading two strategic planning projects, for College Bound and Communities in Schools of San Fernando Valley.  You can read more about Larisa via her profile on LinkedIn.


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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