Jun 02, 2023 |

Thomson Reuters scales its IMPACTathon in 2023

Meg Rauth VanWagner, Director, Social Impact Institute

Pro bono volunteering is shown to have a significant impact on communities. According to a study by the Stanford Social Innovation Review, pro bono volunteering can increase the sustainability and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations, resulting in improved outcomes for the populations and cause areas they serve. Moreover, pro bono volunteering can lead to professional and personal growth opportunities. It can help individuals develop new skills, expand their networks, and gain valuable experience in their field.

At Thomson Reuters, we have a longstanding history of offering pro bono legal aid to nonprofit organizations and, two years ago, we made the decision to expand our pro bono support across all functional areas to provide a more holistic approach to strengthening the capacity of our nonprofit partners.

Thus, in 2021, the Thomson Reuters Social Impact Institute piloted a small hackathon event – coined the IMPACTathon – helping six organizations in the United States to a successful result. The demand increased in 2022 and we expanded into three more countries, supporting 18 organizations.

This year, we were able to scale our efforts to support 44 nonprofit organizations across eight countries working in over a dozen cause areas.

2023 IMPACTathon a huge success

Over 200 Thomson Reuters employees – from analysts & managers to VPs & C-suite executives – volunteered as pro bono consultants for the IMPACTathon in April, enabling us to harness a wide variety of skillsets and backgrounds. Projects included KPI Development, Financial Health Analysis, Communications Strategy, UX Requirements Brief, Operations Process Design, Performance Evaluation Review, and many more. And while the majority of events were virtual, we invited two UK-based organizations into our London office to work in-person with local teams of consultants as an expansion of our decade-long partnership with the Social Business Trust.

A key objective of the IMPACTathon is for every nonprofit to leave with a deliverable that is implementable and sustainable. And while our consultant teams work closely with their nonprofit partner to understand their implementation budgets, we understand that unexpected expenses or previously unknown options arise that might be out of budget. To reinforce our pledge to provide sustainable solutions, as a new bonus this year, we surprised our nonprofit participants and provided each with a donation to help cover any unanticipated implementation costs.

In total, the 2023 IMPACTathon far surpassed previous years in terms of outcomes. Over 200 employees provided a total of 1,700+ hours which is valued at over $336,000 (USD)* in consulting services – an average of $7,600+ (USD) per organization – all in a day’s work at no cost to the nonprofits.

Organizations and volunteers feel the impact of pro bono

Many nonprofit participants came out of the experience in awe of how large the impact will be on their organization relative to the time spent working through their challenge. One nonprofit participant stated, “I personally feel incredibly energized to take what was created today and put it to use as quickly as we can because it’s so exceptional. The team was wonderful – so talented and engaged. The value of their contributions is immense.”

Another was able the capture the value right away exclaiming, “Our deliverable is a real legacy piece that [will] deliver a humongous return on investment.” Impressively, 82% of nonprofit participants anticipate that their deliverable will strengthen their infrastructure and, further, 76% anticipate it will improve their programs to the extent that they will be able to increase the number of constituents they serve!

Likewise, pro bono consultants were impressed and proud of what they were able to accomplish with a team of their peers with one consultant stating that this was, “an amazing experience to share knowledge and collaborate with such passionate and talented individuals to support a great cause. Our brief pro bono work was truly impactful.” Moreso than the sense of achievement, the consultants were affected by how they felt at the end of the day. “Personally, this was one of the most fulfilling and exciting things I’ve done,” stated one consultant. Another was inspired to do more, sharing, “Working with my nonprofit partner has given me a fresh perspective and increased drive to continue to make an impact.”

Even for long-tenured experts and high-level executives, we anticipate that they will learn something new throughout this experience. Holding true to our assumption, we found that 92% of pro bono consultants learned something new about their nonprofit’s cause area, 84% stated that their project strengthened skills outside of their functional area such as adaptability and empathy, and 79% stated this project allowed them to stretch their functional areas expertise in a new way.

Thomson Reuters teammates on a Teams call during the 2023 IMPACTathon.

What makes pro bono volunteering different and important is that when it works, it weaves together the expertise and resources from the corporate and nonprofit sectors to create strengthened sustainable solutions that don’t come undone when partners part ways. As the demand for social impact and purpose-driven work continues to grow, pro bono volunteering will likely play an increasingly important role in creating a more equitable and sustainable future for us all, and Thomson Reuters is proud to be part of that movement.

View the 2023 IMPACTathon Impact Report to review the full scope of outcomes and testimonials.

*Pro bono valuation is calculated by using the average hourly value for pro bono service ($195 USD per hour), as referenced by the Taproot Foundation.