Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Pro Bono OR Newsletter - Assess, Appraise and Anticipate the Scheme

Pondering Pro Bono OR 2017 
2017 was both successful and developmental for Pro Bono OR, with great new changes being brought forward into 2018. There are three main elements that formulate the success of Pro Bono OR, and they are, our volunteers, the Third Sector Organisations we work with and the Pro Bono Steering Group Committee. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who have been involved in a role within Pro Bono OR in 2017.

Pro Bono OR saw its biggest change in 2017. Since its creation, our very own Felicity McLeister has been the face of the scheme, heeding and guiding, initiating and incentivising. My welcome, not only into pro bono, but into the OR world on a wider scale has brought insightful learning curves. Filling Felicity’s size 6’s has been both a pleasure and a privilege. Nevertheless, as we growth, change and adapt I can assure you that the original aims of objects of Pro Bono OR will never be dismissed.

2017 Projects
During 2017 we were able to close 14 projects, all with great success and solutions which were tailored to the wants and needs of each organisation. With volunteers putting in the hours, completed projects equated to over £70,000 worth of billable hours. Luckily for the Third Sector, for them, our consultancy is free and will continue to be. To see our case studies head to  

To ensure we can take on a project, we have volunteers based all over England, Scotland and Wales, so there’s no project that goes untouched. Our volunteer numbers remain strong with over 600 members and non-members of The OR Society seeking projects in their local area.
As we move into 2018 we bring with us 20 projects that are still underway, as well as numerous projects lined up to be advertised to volunteers soon. I’m proud of our scheme as it has been, and will always cater for, diverse organisations and their service users.  Whether an organisation is a start-up and needs help with strategy, or whether they’re in full swing and wondering how to best measure impact to date, and improve effectiveness or efficiency, Pro Bono OR can provide the solutions needed.

Client quotes from 2017 projects 
‘It has been really helpful to have an independent set of eyes look at our processes’
-Stroke Association

“This was an excellent and positive intervention which has helped us enormously… It will make our performance management information much more meaningful.”

Pro Bono Steering Group committee 
At a committee level we would like to say thank you and farewell to Jon Tecwyn (BEIS) who stepped down from his role on the committee. In his place we welcomed Jon Richards (Thales) who has taken on the role whilst hitting the ground running. Thank you to the committee for your continued efforts and support.
Collaboration is important now more than ever, that’s why we continue to work alongside some great organisations including: Royal Statistical Society, New Philanthropy Capital, Pro Bono Economics, NCVO, GORS, Reach and Small Charities Coalition. Whether it’s promoting an opportunity or finding the necessary skills to complete a project, we are always able to find a charitable solution to a charitable problem.


Here's a little overview from those involved in the planning, prep and precision of Pro Bono OR...
Volunteer your skills for good causes.
Careers Open Day

What’s next for Pro Bono?
As always, Pro Bono OR is shaped by your wants and needs, so keep on sending in questions and requests of what you want to happen next. Here’s what’s to come, based on what you asked…

Hints and Tips
In 2017 two of our Pro Bono committee members ran a hints and tips workshop at OR59, designed to give you some inside info on that all important first meeting with the client. You can find resources here...
In 2018 we will continue to provide hints and tips on more of our Pro Bono OR processes, including CV and application advice, project management and consultancy guidance. If there any particular elements you’d like covered then please email me and let me know your query.

I’m in the early stages of my OR career, what is the likelihood that I will get chosen for a project?
We encourage early careers OR applicants to apply for projects they have a particular interest in. Applications are sent to the Third Sector organisation who then chose the volunteer they’d like to work with on the project. If your application appeals to the organisation and their mission then there’s nothing stopping you from being chosen. If you’re willing, but not quite confident enough to tackle a project on your own, then we have a solution for that to. When you send in an application, request to have a mentor who can help guide you through the project. Our mentors are the best of the best in the OR community.

Why should I apply if I am repeatedly unsuccessful?
Some volunteers find themselves unsuccessful for several projects. In the past we haven’t delved into why this is the case on an individual basis. However, in 2018, upon your request, we will be hosting CV workshops and posting advice and guidance to help you get chosen.
To start you off, here’s two bits of crucial advice:

1. The number one piece of advice that I can give to you is, remember it’s the Third Sector organisation who reads your application and decides your fate. This means writing without assumption; using language a ‘non-OR’ person will understand. Tell them what OR technique you will use, tell them what it is, then tell them why it will work.
2. Secondly, it’s important to identify the characteristics of the Third Sector; the sector comes with more passion than date night! And those who work in the industry often have an emotional connection to the cause. Highlight the cause and tell them why it’s also important to you. You don’t need a personal story, simply acknowledge that you understand how important the cause is.
How often are projects advertised?
Project adverts don’t run by a schedule. Once an organisation registers interest to receive Pro Bono OR support, a member of the committee will take time to speak with the contact to discuss the project and its OR elements. The scoping process varies in time according to the size of the project, the time availability of the organisation and the small task of drawing up a project ad. Although I cannot give you confirmed ad dates, I can promise you quality projects, that are mutually beneficial, and they are coming your way.

If you have so many volunteers why should I sign up?
Although we have a strong number of volunteers, the projects that we take on are diverse. Projects need practitioners and academics, as well as a wide range of skills and techniques. You might not be the only person in the UK with the necessary skills for a project, but there’s a chance you’ll be the person we need on site to get the job done. We offer services to aid strategic planning, impact measurement, process improvement, data analysis, efficiency improvement, options appraisal, decision making and many others… The techniques that can be used are endless, and so will be our volunteer list. If you’re still not convinced, then here’s 5 reasons to sign up to volunteer today…

Thank you again to all those who invested in Pro Bono OR in 2017. As we move into 2018 we will continue to do more whilst achieving our original aims of helping the Third sector, promoting OR and providing opportunities for OR analysts to practice in a wider arena and develop skills and knowledge.

We currently have several projects that are accepting applications. For project details and application please visit

If you’d like any more information about Pro Bono OR then please contact Hope Meadows,

New Pro Bono OR Project: RFSA Foundation Project

Royal Female School of Art (RFSA) Foundation  Project Strategy and business planning Project : To help the Board with the creation...