We support the social engagement of professionals to help nonprofit organizations do a better job. Our focus is in the field of pro bono; in addition, we also promote civic engagement.
Pro bono – short for pro bono publico, "for the public good" – refers to a donated service to promote the common good. In other words, professionals use their skills in the service of a good cause without asking for money in return.
Nonprofit organizations often lack access to professional services. Money is too tight to spend it on legal and financial support or on marketing and communications. Still, NGOs and foundations day after day tackle the societal challenges of our time – in fields such as environmental protection, health, and education. At the same time, there are companies and professionals that would like to volunteer their skills and expertise in the service of a good cause – that is, pro bono, Latin for “for the public good.”
There are still too few initiatives that can serve as intermediaries between both sides and provide professional guidance to pro bono projects. In many regions of the world, the pro bono concept is still unknown, and the quality of the services is not very high.
In Germany, civic engagement is part of a vibrant civil society. Nevertheless, there are not enough professional, well-connected local contact points for engaged citizens of communities and municipalities. They are, however, an important step on the way towards a well-functioning polity of the future.
Together with the Taproot Foundation, we are building the Global Pro Bono Network. This international group of intermediaries coordinates pro bono services between companies, professionals, and nonprofit organizations and thus enhances the quality and professionalism in the field. The intermediaries know what the nonprofits need, and define and supervise realistic pro bono projects. In addition, they moderate the expectations of the involved companies and individuals and make sure that their competencies and skills are put to the best possible use.
Through our support of the “Committed Community” competition, we strengthen the strategic development of civic engagement in communities and municipalities. The focus is on local collaborations and professional networking. The goal: a successful and coherent local engagement strategy.
Our Approaches and Instruments
Since 2010, the BMW Foundation, together with the Taproot Foundation, has organized the annual Global Pro Bono Summit, where intermediaries from our Global Pro Bono Network exchange ideas and experiences, share methodological expertise and provide access to new networks. Outside of the Summit, we support pro bono intermediaries through consultancy, participation in events, and teleconferencing. In Germany, we work particularly closely with the social enterprise Proboneo. By collaborating with pro bono organizations worldwide, we also want to open up new opportunities for engagement for the participants of our Young Leaders Forums.
Through the “Committed Community” program, we, together with other foundations and the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, promote the establishment of professional contact points for engaged citizens in cities and communities between 10,000 and 100,000 inhabitants. This collaboration is a novelty, as is the design of the grant program: For the first time, the focus is not on specific projects or organizational forms, but on local collaborations among a variety of different actors.