Pro bono programs

Pro bono programs

Antoine Colonna, Pro Bono Lab France (France)
Liz Hamburg, Taproot (US)
Claudia Leißner, Proboneo (Germany)
Manuel Meister, Accenture (Switzerland)

Moderator: Armin Pialek, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt (Germany)

Three pro bono intermediaries and one corporate representative started by asking the participants for a brief definition of what pro bono actually is. here were different definitions but we could all agree that at its core, pro bono was about individuals providing their core skills to serve the common good. It differentiates from other kinds of volunteering as pro bono intends to use professional skills.  

We continued the discussion to see how pro bono intermediaries from around the world help corporations and nonprofits alike come together in high impact pro bono projects. Pro bono intermediaries help nonprofits identify core needs, scope projects and get them ready to manage pro bono consultants. They also train pro bono consultants to work with nonprofits and design models that help create ideal situations for all stakeholders (nonprofit, individual and company). Their work was compared to “dating sites” as they help find the right match, but as dating goes, not every match is the right fit. Thus, one of the main tasks is to manage expectations on all sites.

Looking at pro bono within companies, the panelists agreed that an alignment with the corporate culture and values are vital to the success of the program. Interestingly enough, the realization was that the bottleneck did not come from identifying employees or individuals that are willing to donate their core skills but in the amount of nonprofits ready to use pro bono in a strategic way. Also pro bono, like other types of volunteering needs to be locally embedded. When companies look to roll out global corporate volunteering or pro bono programs it is good to incorporate local partners. For local pro bono the organizations look to the Global Pro Bono Network for help.

Prepared by Armin Pialek, Session Moderator


Presentation by 
Antoine Colonna, Pro Bono Lab France

Presentation by 
Manuel Meister, Accenture

Presentation by 
Liz Hamburg, Taproot

ANTOINE COLONNA D’ISTRIA is the Co‐founder and Director of Strategy of Pro Bono Lab. He has been studying and working on pro bono volunteering with social innovators in more than 10 countries since 2010, while growing Pro Bono Lab into a 16 fulltime staff organization with hundreds of volunteers in France. He is a member of the Advisory Council of the Global Pro Bono Network.

MANUEL MEISTER currently leads Accenture’s business in the Swiss telecommunications, media and high-tech sector. He has also been managing Accenture Switzerland’s contribution to “Skills-to-Succeed”, the focus of Accenture’s Corporate Citizenship and corporate social responsibility efforts, aiming to equip more than 3 million people globally with the skills to get a job or build a business by 2020.

LIZ HAMBURG is the President and CEO of Taproot Foundation, which drives social change by leading, mobilizing, and engaging professionals in pro bono service. Liz has been an active board member and advisor to non-profits and social entrepreneurs and has over 20 years of experience starting up and growing innovative businesses both in the U.S. and international markets.

CLAUDIA LEIßNER is the Founder and Executive Director of Proboneo, the biggest pro bono agency in Germany. She has experience working as a social innovation manager with a venture philanthropy fund where she advised nonprofit organizations. Her work with these organizations inspired her to establish Talentspender e.V., a professional pro bono matchmaker, whose activities laid the foundations for Proboneo.


ARMIN PIALEK is a Project Manager at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, coordinating the cooperation with the Taproot Foundation in New York and San Francisco. The aim is to bring professional Pro Bono Services to Germany and support the Global Pro Bono Network. Armin also supports international expansion and manages the relationship with Mitost in Russia.