Celebrating Pro Bono Week: Thomson Reuters IMPACTathon Leverages Pro Bono for Social Good 

By Meg Rauth VanWagner, Director, Social Impact Institute

Thomson Reuters has had a longstanding commitment to supporting pro bono work as part of our legal corporate social responsibility practice. Building off this foundation, we are piloting new pro bono opportunities to both expand support to our non-profit partners and customers and to extend this professional development opportunity to employees across our teams.

Thomson Reuters launched the IMPACTathon in October just ahead of Pro Bono Week. We took the hackathon model and leveraged talent and the expertise of our people for social good in support of non-profit organizations that do work in the same areas of as our social impact pillars – access to justice, truth, and transparency. 

For our inaugural IMPACTathon , we convened six non-profits from Minnesota, Texas, Washington, D.C., and New York, whose incredibly critical work spans from media literacy to human rights to defending those wrongfully convicted. Each organization presented a ‘challenge statement,’ and was matched with a cross-functional team of Thomson Reuters employees -- or pro bono consultants -- who ‘hacked away’ at these challenges over the course of one day, using their expertise in marketing, strategic planning, business development, diversity and inclusion, communications, social media, customer relationship management, and more. 

Much of the work focused on helping the organizations develop necessary capacity-building tools to enhance their own ability in areas not typically supported by foundation grants and individual donors. Each organization left the day with tangible, sustainable action items that can be immediately implemented. This support comes at a time when many non-profits have been challenged by the effects of the pandemic, including increased need for their services while simultaneously a decrease in staff capacity and resources.

A survey following our IMPACTathon showed that the event was win-win for all involved. For our people, the experience of supporting these organizations was not only rewarding but provided insights into the challenges within the non-profit sector, and around issues affecting people across the globe. Four in five indicated the experience was a unique and powerful professional development opportunity, enabling them to learn or develop in new ways.  According to one pro bono consultant, the best aspect was “feeling like my expertise was needed and had value.” Another commented that they appreciated “hearing [the non-profit client] say we made a difference.”

For the non-profits attending, we heard that the IMPACTathon was incredibly beneficial to their organizations. For one attendee, the best part was “that we came away with defined, actionable steps.”  Another felt that “the positive and thoughtful interactions with the team were the best aspect of it all.” 

In total, Thomson Reuters employees provided more than $46,000 worth in pro bono consulting services, an average of $7,000 per non-profit in just five hours. Further, we are thrilled to hear that both pro bono consultants and non-profit participants recommend participating in the IMPACTathon and 87% of the pro bono consultants made a connection so strong that they are going to continue supporting their non-profit client beyond this event.

After much initial success, the IMPACTathon will be expanded and scaled in the future to extend our reach to organizations across the world to further our support and commitment to justice, truth, and transparency. 

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