Our Story

Mid-January 2015

Not for this Bono, but “pro bono” as in “for public good”

It all started in London with a deep conversation about inequality in our world, and the hope and positive opportunities created by pro bono work in the legal industry.

“Pro bono work” means volunteering by regularly providing a professional skill or service to support a good cause. It is different from “one-off volunteering” (e.g. ice bucket challenge, fundraisers, helping a good cause once or a few times a year) and “charity work” (i.e. if your main job involves charity) and it lies somewhere between a hobby and a professional development experience – it’s something you do all year long during your free time!

It is such a big tradition in the law sector that big law firms and top lawyers are rated for the amount and quality of pro bono work they provide. The ABA (American Bar Association) asks lawyers to commit at least 50 hours a year to do pro bono work. And while it creates such positive impact, junior- and mid-level lawyers, increasingly even law students, use pro bono work to widen their experience, grow their network and look at how things work outside their main job.

“If lawyers do it, so should digital professionals!” – was the thought that sparked the creation of Outreach Digital!

January 20th, 2015
Our first presence is created – the Meetup.com/Digital group which aimed at creating meetings for professionals to share digital skills for a good cause and get to know each other.

January 26th, 2015
Our first “meetup” with members of the public and society at large. Many ideas were shared on what strategy Outreach Digital should focus on, some of which included: a charitable multi-level marketing pyramid scheme (!), a charitable digital consultancy, or a marketplace between charities and pro bono consultants.

Over the following few weeks we held more meetings, discussed and debated everything about digital, and finally realized that creating free inclusive workshops for everyone was the best way to enable large scale impact.

February 18th, 2015
Our very first practical workshop evening – “Intro to Agile Management & Scrum” with a senior software developer from Poland, in a crowded corner of Southbank Center, Europe’s largest arts and entertainment space.

February 24th, 2015
For the first time we do a workshop “Intro to Web Development” at what would become our regular venue, the historical Prospect of Whitby in Wapping, made famous by the paintings of JMW Turner.

March 9th, 2015
Our first Digital Case Competition – every participant in the winning team won a calorie counter!

March 20th, 2015
Our first long-term collaboration with an external charity affiliated with a research group of Oxford University.

June 12th, 2015
The Head of UX at Havas Media runs a workshop with OD on “Myth vs Reality in User Experience

July 29th, 2015
For the first time, our guest turnout exceeds 100 – and we had a great speaker, Jonathan Allen, the former director of Search Engine Watch (searchenginewatch.com)

From this point we alternate between several venues, including WeWork in Soho.

September 1st, 2015
Anjelika Kour, a fashion startup founder from New York travels to London to speak at Outreach Digital. We have an increasing number of speakers traveling from all around the world.

November 17th, 2015
“Fondamenti di Grafica Digitale”, our first workshop in another language, possibly the only such case in London. An intro to Photoshop in Italian.

November 25th, 2015
One of our team members and her employer, the award-winning digital agency Cyberduck, start regular Breakfast Drop-In Sessions to provide free digital advice for charities and social entrepreneurs.

December 14th, 2015
Our main team has grown to over 20 members, and to help advance our mission, quality and objectives, every new volunteer from this day needs to make a pledge to Outreach Digital.

So many achievements in so little time, and most importantly – during our free time, and thanks to the priceless support of ambitious volunteers, kind organizations and highly talented speakers.