Arts and business news from around the country.


In Pro Bono We Trust

Posted by Tim McClimon

The week before Hurricane Sandy turned the East Coast upside down, American Express and other companies joined the Taproot Foundation in celebrating Pro Bono Week.


We participated by hosting a Scope-a-thon, an effort to engage our employees in helping to scope projects from nonprofits in order to prepare them to more fully benefit from pro bono consulting in the future.


We had 35 American Express employees in our New York office assist 11 nonprofits in a three-hour marathon Scope-a-thon. The nonprofits included:

  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • City Parks Foundation
  • Creative Alternatives of New York
  • GallopNYC
  • God’s Love We Deliver
  • Historic House Trust
  • Japan Society
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC
  • New York Blood Center
  • Reel Works Teen Filmmaking
  • Studio Museum in Harlem


The Taproot Foundation did a terrific job of structuring the conversation around these four questions:

        1. First, what hurts?
        2. Next, what are some ways to fix it?
        3. So, what’s the specific prescription?
        4. And finally, what’s the treatment plan?


The response from both employees and nonprofits was extremely positive. 100 percent of employees said that they would participate again and refer the program to a colleague. One employee went so far as to say that it was her “best day” at American Express.

Nonprofit leaders were equally pleased, with one stating: “Yesterday’s session was a terrific opportunity to gain fresh insights and perspectives from your esteemed colleagues.”


The occasion of Pro Bono Week also provided me with an incentive to sit down and read Aaron Hurst’s new book on leadership.


In addition to Aaron’s role as president and founder of Taproot, he writes a blog for the Huffington Post. Last year, he interviewed 19 corporate leaders (including me) about their careers and interests, and the evolving relationship between business and the community.


In his introduction to the book (he also did the line drawings), Aaron summarizes his discussions with corporate leaders with this statement:

  • At the heart of their visions is an awareness that coinciding and driving much of the change in the social contract between business and society is a change in the social contract between professionals and society. Professionals and the talents they bring in areas like marketing, technology, management, design and finance are the currency of the service economy and are playing a core role in the evolution of corporate philanthropy and community investment.


Here are a few other quotes about pro bono work from corporate leaders featured in Aaron’s book:

  • “A little over five years ago, we identified our people and their talent as our greatest strengths. Being a company that has a lot of employees, we said we have to leverage this group beyond just their time. While time is valuable, we think that talent is a multiplier. Now, 100 percent of our youth-serving grants have what’s called “link and leverage,” which is they’re linking to a company asset beyond cash. We also leverage internal talent pro bono to get our work done as a foundation. From strategic planning to surveys to website design, employees from different areas of the company volunteer to help us meet our goals.” ~ Bobby Silten, The Gap
  • “Our Corporate Service Corps is one of our key programs. We take our top talent in the company and give them the ability to deliver strategic planning assistance, project management assistance, technology strategies, and social networking tools. In the last 3.5 years, over a thousand employees have worked in teams with not-for-profit organizations and governments, creating really lasting partnerships. I like to think that we’re operating in the community arena the same way we operate in the business environment.” ~ Stan Litow, IBM
  • “We’ve always done pro bono work and we clearly see the value internally. We use it as a development area for our people. It’s really embedded in our value system. To us, it’s accelerating the development of our employees and making better professionals. They need to understand the global markets; they need to understand the broader communities in which we operate.” ~ Kathy Hopkinkah-Hannan, KPMG


At American Express, our pro bono consulting program, which we call Serve2Gether Consulting, is completing its first full year of operation.


Like Kathy Hopkinkah-Hannan, we’re pleased with the results internally, and like Stan LItow and Bobby Silten, we clearly see the potential for leverage externally. Next year, we hope to grow the program globally by partnering with a select number of nonprofit organizations who can help us “outsource” the mechanics of the program.


Stay tuned for more results next year.


*Originally posted on Tim’s CSR Now! blog and also on ARTSblog.

*Photo via.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More News

360 Degrees of Dance, Design, and Technology
Mar 15, 2018 0 Comments
Last week, Barney’s New York, Samsung Electronics America, and Martha Graham Dance Company unveiled the new Window on Madison Ave. Combining fashion, tech, and art, the display offers passersby, shoppers, and art enthusiasts...
Go to full post
NYC Business Provides World Class Platform for Youth Creativity
Mar 01, 2018 0 Comments
Everyone faces challenges; but not everyone has the tools to overcome them. What happens when companies provide resources and recognition to young people to work through these issues in creative, safe spaces? Change.   Scholastic...
Go to full post
Art & Water: The Two Essentials
Feb 22, 2018 0 Comments
It’s been a year since we featured LIFEWTR for their collaboration with artists for the design on their bottles of purified water. The company believes that its dynamic bottle labels is what will give the brand an edge over its...
Go to full post
Hospitality for the Arts
Feb 20, 2018 0 Comments
When searching for hotels, people are drawn to places that exude a sense of intention and creativity. A hotel’s aesthetics thus play a key role in its success –  as an industry, the hospitality world already has a need to be...
Go to full post
For Artists, By Artists: Supporting Each Other Through Business
Feb 15, 2018 0 Comments
As an artist, Craig “KR” Costello saw a need for efficient graffiti mediums. As a businessperson, he solved the hole in the market.   Graffiti artists in New York were all about mobility, painting subway cars through the City...
Go to full post
Music and Resilience in Osceola County
Feb 13, 2018 0 Comments
In the aftermath of the hurricanes that struck Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, over 2,300 students have been relocated to Florida. In Osceola County, arts educators and business leaders are partnering to provide support for...
Go to full post
Interested in measuring business support for the arts in your community?
Jan 23, 2018 0 Comments
Since 1969, Americans for the Arts through the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), has been conducting the National Survey of Business Support for the Arts. Now, conducted annually in partnership with The Conference Board...
Go to full post
New David Rockefeller BCA pARTnership Award
Jan 08, 2018 0 Comments
Americans for the Arts announced today that the David Rockefeller Fund will invest in a four-year presenting sponsorship of the new David Rockefeller BCA pARTnership Award. Given annually, the award will honor a company and arts...
Go to full post
Nation's United Arts Funds Raise $85.5 million for the Arts in 2016
Jan 02, 2018 0 Comments
Throughout the summer of 2017, the Americans for the Arts Private Sector Initiatives department solicited responses to the FY2016 United Arts Fund Campaign Survey. Surveys were distributed to a total of 45 united arts funds by...
Go to full post
Nominate the Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts
Dec 11, 2017 0 Comments
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: 2018 BCA 10 AWARDS Every year, Americans for the Arts through its Business Committee for the Arts, honors the 10 best businesses partnering with the arts in America. Submissions close January 19. ...
Go to full post
Award-Winning Examples of Companies Supporting the Arts
Nov 21, 2017 0 Comments
The arts are an economic driver. According to the Arts & Economic Prosperity study, released by Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion of economic activity during 2015, which...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: AC Entertainment in Knoxville, Tennessee
Nov 14, 2017 0 Comments
Known as one of the foremost concert promoters and festival producers in the United States, AC Entertainment celebrates the arts by bringing first-class live entertainment experiences to music lovers from around the world. Founded...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: Scholastic Inc., New York City
Nov 09, 2017 0 Comments
“Creative, innovative thinking, the hallmark of artists and writers, is fundamental to building economic strength, and new and better ways of seeing the world. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards validates the creativity of students...
Go to full post
BCA 10 Spotlight: Duke Energy in Charlotte, North Carolina
Nov 07, 2017 0 Comments
“Duke Energy is committed to supporting the vitality of the communities we serve. That includes introducing our young people to the arts at an early age—study after study shows that children benefit immensely from exposure to...
Go to full post

Already a partner?

Already a partner?

Learn easy ways to take your partnership to a new level.

Use our ads locally

Use our ads locally

View The pARTnership Movement ad campaign and find ways to use the ads.

pARTnership videos

pARTnership videos

Watch and share our videos from The pARTnership Movement.

Partnership ideas

Partnership ideas

Inspire employees with tickets to the ballet or a concert.

Are you an arts group?

Are you an arts group?

Get listed in our searchable directory.

Recruit talent

Recruit talent

Employees want to live and work in a vibrant community.