Hello again to those interested in the subject of pro bono projects. In my last post, I introduced the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) Community Service Program (CSP), which is working with Donate4Change to encourage and support pro bono consulting services to benefit public sector and community-serving nonprofit organizations.

You may remember, Settlement Music School (SMS) was selected as the client for the inaugural project of the ISPI CSP. SMS is the largest and one of the oldest community schools of the arts in the USA with a very worthy mission:

To provide the highest quality instruction in music and the arts to children and adults,
regardless of age, background, ability, or economic circumstances.

Where did we start? First, let me ask you to put yourself in the place of the client. Think about it. A pro bono project is NOT actually free! Client organizations must be willing and able to invest in time “off the job” for their paid (and volunteer) staff, who will work with the consultants over the course of the project. Further, prospective clients must have faith and put their trust in outsiders/consultants they don’t know and haven’t selected. Will these outsiders understand and respect the culture of our organization, no less have the capability of offering valuable insights?

    By the way, putting yourself in the client’s place is important when you are working with any client,
not just for pro bono projects!

So, who/what was our client, SMS? And, most important, what did they want? How could we help them?

Note that we did some “homework” before meeting key members of the SMS leadership team, virtually. We used internet sources, the client’s website, drew on our own experience and spoke with others who had considered and/or used similar services. However, let me emphasize that we began building a partnering relationship with SMS from the very beginning, during our first virtual meeting. At that time, we also described our analysis approach and next steps.

What did we know at the end of our first client contact?

  • Performance enhancement, getting “even better,” was the ultimate goal, not fixing problems.
  • Registration and Re-Registration was the focus area.
  • The six (6) Branches that comprise SMS, where Registration and Re-Registration happen, were all the same, in some very fundamental ways, but they were also all different!!

Next time we’ll talk about data gathering.


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