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At Your Service

April 23, 2012

My CSR team at American Express has just launched Serve2Gether Consulting, a pro bono volunteer program that focuses on helping nonprofit leaders run their organizations better by deploying American Express employees as consultants on short-term projects.

Created and developed over the past 18 months with advice and counsel from the Taproot Foundation, this new program will allow employees to use their professional skills to address critical needs of nonprofits related to marketing, strategic planning and technology as well as organizational structure, capacity building and legal issues.

The Serve2Gether Consulting Program currently has four components:

  • Our General Counsel Office’s ongoing legal Pro Bono Program
    (New York )
  • The Community Corps Program with NPower (U.S.)
  • Young Social Entrepreneur Consulting with Do Something (U.S.)
  • Serve2Gether Consulting Challenge (New York for pilot program)

Using the Taproot Foundation’s model of developing "practice areas" to target needed pro bono assistance into specific projects, we honed in on eight areas that we felt were core competencies for American Express to use in the Consulting Challenge this spring:

  • Key Messages & Brand Strategy
  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Building Customer Relationships
  • Targeting New Audiences
  • Peer Benchmarking
  • Strategic Planning Preparation
  • Performance Management

We went out to nonprofit organizations in New York and invited applications for projects in these eight practice areas. 63 organizations submitted applications that were screened by Taproot to determine their viability and readiness. Of the 63 projects, we chose 16 for the pilot program.

The organizations chosen to participate are:

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
  • Donors Choose
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Harlem Children’s Zone
  • Housing Works
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Junior Achievement
  • Liberty Science Center
  • Malaria No More
  • My Good Deed
  • New York Historical Society
  • Open Spaces Institute
  • Second Stage Theatre
  • White House Project
  • YMCA

Right now, we are in the midst of recruiting American Express employees to form multi-function teams to consult on projects for these organizations. They will have about eight weeks to form recommendations to address the issues outlined in the applications. At that time, we will review the recommendations and select five organizations to receive seed grants to kick-start implementation of the team recommendations.

If successful (which we have confidence that it will be), this program will then be rolled out to other U.S. locations and select markets outside the United States.

Service is at the heart of American Express. It’s in our DNA, and it’s what we do best. So, it’s logical for us to extend that commitment to service to help nonprofit organizations with business issues that are impacting them every day. Stay tuned for results in a couple of months.

Do you have a story about pro bono work that you’d like to share? Let us know here.

P.S.Did you know that the Latin, pro bono, means "for the good"?


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