Anaheim, California

Taproot Foundation

Taproot Foundation
Anaheim, California

Gaining Insight To Scale A New Volunteer Program

October 2015


  • Analyze 15 years of data to uncover predictors for the best engagements between pro bono consultants, nonprofits, and Taproot Foundation
  • Understand what makes a nonprofit or pro bono consultant a good fit for Taproot’s long-standing and new program delivering pro bono services to nonprofits.


  • A few factors impact the likelihood of a nonprofit’s application getting approved such as whether the organization had applied before or whether it was referred by a Taproot staff member or volunteer.
  • Taproot can target its volunteer outreach for its new program to those that are no longer “Active” in its current Service Grant program, as they are unlikely to re-engage otherwise.


Because unrestricted funding is so hard to come by in the nonprofit sector, most organizations simply don’t have access to the same marketing, IT, strategy, finance and HR resources most companies take for granted.

The Taproot Foundation helps nonprofits scale their efforts by connecting them to talented business professionals who volunteer their expertise to deliver high-impact pro bono service. To share their 15 years of experience with others trying to make social change through pro bono, they convene global pro bono leaders with Pro Bono Week and the Pro Bono Summit, and publish research and thought leadership that advances the pro bono movement.

Given their tremendous track record delivering over $150 million in pro bono services, Taproot wondered what insights from its program data could be used to scale its own work, refining its long-standing Service Grant program and informing the design of its newest program, Taproot +?

What Happened?

Led by Data Ambassadors Elisia Getts, Mahdi Moqri, and Jack McCush, the team at the 2015 Teradata Cares DataDive used Taproot’s data to analyze a few key questions including what types of nonprofits and volunteers, or pro bono consultants as Taproot calls them, are a good fit for each of its programs and how they might target their outreach accordingly.

Through its Service Grant program, teams of pro bono consultants deliver services to nonprofits over six to nine month engagements. To understand what leads to a successful Service Grant engagement, the team first looked at what factors affect a nonprofit’s application being accepted. A few things did impact the likelihood of a nonprofit’s application getting approved such as whether the organization had applied before, whether it was referred by a Taproot member or volunteer and, interestingly, how long its response was to the application question describing their Plan B if they don’t get an award. The graph above shows the impact of staff size - organizations with fewer full-time employees are less likely be awarded a Service Grant, though this disadvantage seems to disappear after five full-time employees. Insights like these helped confirm Taproot’s existing hunches and will be used to refine its outreach to organizations that are a good fit for these long-term projects.


Taproot Foundation’s newest program, Taproot + is an online matching platform for short-term pro bono projects. Taproot wondered what kind of impact the launch of this new program might have on its long-standing Service Grant program. For example, is there risk of cannibalizing their pool of active volunteers and potentially weakening its Service Grant program as a result? Pro bono consultants in Taproot’s system are assigned a status to show their availability for projects ranging from “Orientation” to “Active” to “On Hold” to “Inactive.” The team visualized the paths pro bono consultants tend to take through the various statuses. Those that leave “Active” status have a low rate of re-engaging in the Service Grant program, so they are indeed a good target for Taproot +. Taproot can now reach out to these individuals with confidence, knowing it will not negatively impact their volunteer supply for other projects.

Next Steps

Bringing together nonprofits and pro bono consultants that are likely to be successful in its programs is critical for Taproot to scale its work efficiently and reach more organizations in need. Thanks to the work of their committed pro bono data science team at this DataDive, Taproot now has a better sense of what factors impact a nonprofit’s likelihood of receiving a Service Grant and which of its current volunteers to target for its new program, Taproot +. One sign of success from a DataDive is when an organization leaves with more, yet better informed questions. Taproot is no stranger to using data to inform its  organizational decision making and is continuing to explore these findings, delving deeper into how its long-standing program and newest program can complement each other to maximize their engagement with nonprofits and pro bono consultants.