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Operational Research

Top tips for pro bono project volunteers

OR Society logoRuth Kaufman, President of the OR Society, has recently written two great blog posts summarising her top tips for pro bono project volunteers.

She says “O.R. is one of the most adaptable disciplines imaginable, and its practitioners are among the most flexible, prepared to bring scientific rigour and methods to any question even if it is outside their previous specialism. Given this adventurous approach, it is always a good idea to see if there are any tips from previous explorers.”

From Blog 1, her tips are:

  • Before you meet the client, do prior research to understand the client and their place in the sector
  • Identify the stakeholders and the roles of staff, volunteers and trustees in relation to the project
  • Understand clients’ time constraints, particularly if you need access to trustees
  • Build communication and trust by using plain English and avoiding business jargon
  • Co-produce with the client, by defining project scope but being flexible to meet changing demands

From Blog 2, her tips are:

  • Treat the commitment with the same respect as a paid commitment; it is the same as any project with a client
  • Manage expectations, including your own; be prepared to call on the experienced help within the Pro Bono OR Scheme
  • Manage your emotional involvement; you have a professional job to do, however passionate you feel about the charity’s cause
  • Make the most of it; pro bono projects have benefits for the charity, the volunteer and the OR Society

To see some of the projects Pro Bono OR volunteers have worked on and to find out how to get involved please visit the Pro Bono O.R. webpage

You can see my Slideshare presentation summarising my experience of supporting pro bono projects, here.

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