Prophet for Nonprofit Day Gets a Makeover

Prophet has a long history of giving back to the community. That’s why we established Prophet for Nonprofit (P4NP) Day in 2015. But this year when P4NP Day rolled around, our whole world had changed. So we thought we should go ahead and change with it.

Making an impact

Since the inception of P4NP Day, Prophet has gathered as a firm once a year and dedicated the entire day to pro bono or low-bono work for underserved nonprofits. In that time, the firm has donated over 15,000 hours of consulting and community service support for organizations such as Open Hand, US Women’s National Team, National Immigrant Justice Center, The Kenya Lost Children Fund, Microcredit Summit Campaign, and SOS Kinderdorf, among dozens of others. Then came 2020. And everything was different.

For starters, there would be no gathering this year. COVID-19 had seen to that. And the unrest raised by a year of protests, wildfires, and political tumult dominated everyone’s attention. But amidst that climate of unrest, Prophet saw an opportunity — to broaden the scope of our day of volunteering, to address the causes that our employees were passionate about, and to revisit the very mission of P4NP Day.

Introducing “Prophet Impact Day.” According to Jill Steele, a Prophet partner and Prophet Impact leader, the new focus is to broaden the scope of the day’s activities to be more in line with the newly launched Prophet Impact Purpose, with the ultimate goal of building “a healthier, more compassionate, more just world.” Steele said the firm saw the shift in focus as “a good opportunity to see where people’s personal passions lie, and how that matches up with what Prophet can bring to the table.”

So for Prophet Impact Day, the team determined three tracks that most aligned with the prevailing interests of the firm:

  1. Racial Justice
  2. Sustainability
  3. Other Pro Bono

“At Prophet, we know the status quo is not enough — not for our business, not for our communities, and not for our planet.  Building a better future requires reimagining what could be, not looking back at what was.”

—Prophet Impact Team

The day

In the fall, we convened via Zoom for a full day of brainstorming and idea crowdsourcing. The challenge was to find ways that we could put our consulting and creative expertise to use, even when working remotely.

The Prophet Impact Day sessions were designed and led by emerging leaders at Prophet — Emma Witherington and Ginay Knight (Racial Justice), Jenna Wang and Orhun Bozkurt (Sustainability), and Nwla Tompkins-Wells (Other Pro Bono). Each track was structured slightly differently, but intrinsic to them all was starting the day in small groups of six or seven, led by a facilitator from the Prophet Impact team. Emma Goins, a business development and marketing intern at Springbox, a Prophet company, who participated in the Sustainability track, said the small group size “was a great format for everyone being encouraged to share their ideas and pitch in and contribute.”

Nene Okeudo, a senior project manager at Springbox, a Prophet company, participated in the Racial Justice track, and she echoes Goins’s sentiment. “Racial justice is not cookies and ice cream. It’s very deep and tough and there are layers. And the facilitator actually created a good safe space for us to feel somewhat comfortable to share what we wanted to share.”

After the smaller groups brainstormed about themes and tactical considerations using collaborative software like MURAL, they mapped those concepts according to two axes: feasibility and impact. This allowed them to select the ideas that they wanted to present to the larger group. For the last hour and a half of the meeting, each individual group presented their top contenders to the larger group in their track so that everyone could get a sense of what kind of proposals their colleagues were generating.

The output

With the Sustainability track, three focus areas quickly emerged:

  1. What we can do as a firm internally to be more sustainable.
  2. How we can encourage clients to prioritize sustainability.
  3. How we can contribute to existing nonprofits with a sustainability focus.

Internally, the team recognized that the first course of action would be to bring in someone to assess our current carbon footprint and from there to create a scorecard to measure the progress of different initiatives. But many felt that the key to real change was shifting our mindset and our culture to be more receptive to sustainable practices. For instance, said Goins, “at the end of each year, Prophet gives an award to the person who travels the most miles. So, we had the idea of turning that around — let’s not praise someone who’s traveling the most but praise someone who’s traveling the most efficiently and sustainably.”

Other ideas ranged from focusing on being purposeful in our procurement by purchasing from green vendors to hosting sustainability-focused fundraisers, similar to our highly successful annual auction.

While the sustainability team did a great job of brainstorming far-reaching, institutional changes, the racial justice team focused more on the personal. How can we help individuals who are struggling right now? One of the things they stressed was that racial justice was not monolithic. It affects a great diversity of groups, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. With that in mind, Okeudo said that their group wanted to do something to help Black trans people. “Because you think about racial justice — of course the Black experience is at the top of the conversation because of what’s going on right now, but there are also marginalized groups within marginalized groups, and Black trans is one of them. They never get enough love. And so we wanted to make that one of our top options.”

Another area of focus was supporting Black-owned businesses as well as Black professionals. Okeudo emphasized that this can involve a broad range of initiatives, “from providing mentorship to make sure that they know there are Black people in this industry, all the way to helping a small Black business that is probably being impacted by COVID or doesn’t know the right ways to go about consulting or advertising, but they have a great product to sell.” She pointed out that Springbox is in a great position to provide digital marketing or branding services to these businesses in a small way that gives them a really great boost.

What’s next?

The question, though, with any great brainstorming session is do we have the will and the focus to bring these ideas to life? Okeudo thinks so. “When you talk about racial justice and you try to fight, there’s always the momentum in the moment, and then weeks later, it dies. Right?” But with the proposals that came out of the Prophet Impact session, she felt that “these are actionable steps that could actually happen in some period of time, which made me feel really good.”

And the PI team is dedicated to making that happen. After the day-long sessions, they gathered all the feedback and materials from the small groups and started the hard work of implementing tangible strategies. The PI leaders will guide a team of almost 60 Prophet team members in prioritizing and then realizing the goals that were set during Prophet Impact Day.

Steele knows that it’s crucial for Prophet to keep its eye on the ball. “When you look at the demographic trends and what millennials and Gen Z want, this is really important — to work for a company that has clear values that are focused on the broader society.” Goins agrees. “I definitely think that, as somebody who’s seeking out internships in the summer and full-time positions when I graduate, that Prophet, by doing this has really attracted me as a college student. I think it’s something that every company should be doing and focusing on now. I’m just really inspired by the organization.” And with such an engaged, service-oriented talent pool joining the workforce, we should be able to continue making an impact for years to come.