Campus Pro Bono Mid-term pilot in France

A few weeks ago, the second French pilot took place on a full day. Three students surrounded by six mentors (employees and jobseekers) came together to help the NGO Démocratie Ouverte.

Démocratie Ouverte (Open Democracy in english) put forward various proposals for more democracy : 

  • They have a project incubator that puts citizens back at the center of decision-making, 
  • They have citizens’ assemblies to find local solutions, 
  • They propose to the elected representatives a survey on what their citizens would like to put in place in order to participate more in political life and then they experiment solutions, etc.

It is an independent and non-partisan citizen collective, dedicated to the emergence of an open democracy, i.e.: the transparency of public life, the participation of citizens in public decisions, the development of new forms of organization and citizen engagement in the political system.

During the diagnosis, a communication need emerged to disseminate their new offer and create new opportunities. The French team therefore embarked on a communication mission that also matched the skills of the students of the French school SciencesPo. The student association Junior Consulting took care of recruiting the students and the intermediary Pro Bono Lab took care of recruiting the mentors.

The NGO Démocratie Ouverte had many questions about its model and in particular how to create a company in addition to its NGO in order to have a more sustainable economic model and to sell services to communities and companies to improve their democracy. The team started on their need to communicate their new offer but finally during the day the mission focused on the opening of this company and their positioning. They needed it and they asked themselves a lot of questions to which the volunteers answered on their reason for being, their positioning and validated their choice to have a company in addition to their NGO/non-profit.

The facilitation was done in duo between a Pro Bono Lab permanent and the student in charge of Junior Consulting. The student validated the work plan carried out by Pro Bono Lab and on the day of the mission she helped facilitate the workshops and present them. She was a force of proposal and was able to motivate the volunteers.

As the mission has shifted from communication to the creation of a company, it has not necessarily been easy for the students who had to adapt to a more complex mission than expected. Fortunately, the mentors were present to guide them in their reflection and gave them enough place to express themselves and give their opinions. The students said at the end of the day that they learned a lot from the mentors and found the experience very rewarding. A real team cohesion was born during this day and many exchanges took place, including during the lunch break where all these profiles were able to exchange on their respective experiences.

Some feedback from the different profiles present :

Benoit (Student Volunteer): « It was very interesting even though I didn’t participate very much, maybe I wasn’t clear on what I should bring. But it was super interesting, these are things that we often do at school in theory and it allows me to see a concrete case in a field I didn’t know so well, I appreciated it. »

Sophie (Co-Facilitator – student): « It’s important for students to see these realities. It was a great day, thank you all very much. »

Clara (representative of the NGO Démocratie Ouverte): « It was very friendly and at the same time professional with a lot of expertise. It was very varied, it’s nice to have different profiles. We had a lot of feedback that will allow us to move forward. It’s cool to have this kind of manoeuvre, we’re going to get some useful things. I’m also happy that the mission has evolved and that we didn’t stay on the initial mission. »

Natalia (Volunteer Mentor): « Sharing is super interesting. I just wanted to say that the format seemed interesting to me, bringing together experts with different profiles, students with expertise on certain subjects even if they consider that they don’t have enough professional experience yet, it’s a real richness because you also brought a different point of view today that counted. »

The French team of the BEESE Project (Junior Consulting and Pro Bono Lab) would like to thank everyone who participated in this second pilot. Our project is to involve the students, to make them grow through commitment, to share their skills with NGOs so that they can value this experience afterwards but also to make them citizens at the service of the general interest. This second pilot showed us that other benefits were possible through these missions: sharing between generations, learning through concrete cases, transmission of personal and professional experiences as well as creating real team cohesion in a short time. Pro bono is an enriching tool for our society and it is important to teach young people how to use it.

You can see more pictures in this album.