From internal initiatives to a client panel focusing on sustainability, Prophet continued to build internal momentum on ESG.
Prophet celebrated Earth Awareness Month with a series of events to raise internal awareness and find measurable ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Throughout the month, Prophet’s global offices held shoe and clothing drives leading to an impressive number of items (600+) being donated to local organizations to help combat the growing number of textiles ending up in U.S. landfills (85% of all discarded clothing). Offices also participated in an informative, earth-month-themed trivia event. Prophet partner, Tosson El Noshokaty hosted an internal learning session on decarbonization and how we can apply this thinking to assist our clients. Finally, the capstone event was a panel discussion on sustainability with representatives from two Prophet clients, Cool Earth and Rainforest Partnership.
Rainforest Partnership is an environmental organization working to conserve rainforests around the world. They work to create sustainable livelihoods in areas affected by deforestation, aim to increase biodiversity, and champion long-term forest protection by working directly with indigenous and local communities as guardians and economic participants. Prophet worked with Rainforest Partnership to redefine and activate new brand positioning and architecture framework.
Client Panel Recap
Hannah Peck, deputy director, Magda Pieta, partnerships manager at Cool Earth and Niyanta Spelman, Founder and CEO of Rainforest Partnership joined Prophet for a moderated conversation that focused on everyday actions that we can do impact rainforest conservationism and sustainability.
Four takeaways from the discussion:
1. Avoiding inaction in the face of the staggering size of the climate crisis is incredibly important.
“[We must] keep banging the drum and continue talking about it to get as many people on board as you can. There is no one magical thing that will fix it all. We need to make sure that we keep staying front and center in people’s attention and focus”
Magda Pieta, Cool Earth
“[We should think through] how we can be an example. Grab a glass instead of grabbing a plastic bottle. Find what is the easiest for you to start doing and incorporate it into your home”
Niyanta Spelman, Rainforest Partnership
2. Even in the face of the current odds and predictions, we can still dream big.
“Stabilizing the climate is this generations biggest challenge”
Hannah Peck, Cool Earth
“Can you imagine what we can do together? A world where 145 countries would actually write something down that they are going to end deforestation by 2030″
Niyanta Spelman, Rainforest Partnership
3. Every small change has a waterfall effect that can create real change, beyond just recycling, e.g., getting involved with World Rainforest Day or contacting local politician(s).
Let’s [drive change] together. The sum of our parts is so much larger. Everyone can be an amplifier, no matter where you are in the world, what role you play, and whomever you know”
Niyanta Spelman, Rainforest Partnership
“One thing I recently realized I could change easily is where I bank, I can choose a more ethical bank… You can also write to your local politician about something you care about in your local environment to make an impact”
Hannah Peck, Cool Earth
4. When choosing what organizations to work with or donate to, it is pivotal to choose ones that are working in partnership with individuals on the ground.
“Funding is almost always the biggest challenge for every rainforest conservation organization. The most impactful organizations are the ones that work closely on the ground. You should choose where you give money carefully and pick those that are the most impactful and work in partnership with communities”
While Earth Month may have ended, our conversations around climate and sustainability continue. We know it will take a coordinated effort between governments, institutions, businesses, and people all over the world to build a more sustainable future. Our Earth Month activities reiterated that the best way to tackle societal, economic, and environmental challenges is by working together.
Prophet has resources for helping business leaders create and implement a sustainability mindset. Learn more about our ESG offerings here.
Paying it Forward: A Recap of Prophet’s Impact Auction
From weekend getaways to treasured family recipes, Prophet’s Impact Auction raised over $45k in donations to Partners In Health.
For seasoned Propheteers and our newest employees alike, the bi-annual Prophet Impact Auction generates unparalleled excitement. The Prophet Impact Auction is a global fundraising effort to rally behind a cause as we seek to use our expertise and creativity to spark meaningful change. Since 2010, Prophet has supported a variety of causes, from building sanitation facilities in Uganda, to funding girls’ education in Tanzania, to raising $50K to support local Covid relief efforts in 2020. This year marked our 7th auction and Propheteers upheld the beloved tradition by generously giving their time, talents and treasures, donating a variety of goods, services, and experiences to be bid on by colleagues.
Supporting Justice in Healthcare
Through a firm-wide vote, Partners In Health was selected as our 2022 auction benefactor for its mission to provide high-quality healthcare to those who need it most. Partners In Health believes that every person has the same inalienable right to be healthy and achieve their full potential, regardless of their circumstances or where they are born.
The money raised by Prophet was donated to Partners In Health’s global child malnutrition programs, which focus on providing lifesaving treatment to children in Malawi, Haiti and beyond. A single child’s nutritional support costs around $60 for six weeks of treatment. With $45K raised, we are grateful to contribute lifesaving nutritional support to at least 750 children.
“Our deepest gratitude for your generous support of PIH’s child malnutrition treatment programs in Haiti and Malawi. Our teams are working hard to continue to deliver care amidst challenging circumstances, fighting cholera, and dealing with rising food insecurity. Your support helps them keep that important work going. We know that structural problems require sustained responses, which is why we are proud to partner with local governments and invest in systems, to continue to push for increased access to health care.”
Patrick Ulysse, Partner in Health Chief Operations Officer
The Power of Propheteers
With almost 70% firm participation, our employees donated 539 items valued anywhere between $10 to more than $1,000. Propheteers eagerly bid for these unique offerings that ranged from extravagant weekend getaways, such as a trip to a Mallorca townhouse, to sharing treasured family recipes, and hand-painted cookies.
Check out some of the fun items that were donated:
A dozen homemade Swedish cinnamon buns baked by Senior Partner Tobias Baerschneider
A personalized cross-stitched art crafted by Prophet’s Senior Engagement Manager Reem El Sayed
A Manhattan Chinatown food tour with our Associate Kristen Wong
An oil portrait beautifully painted by our Asia Marketing Manager Charlotte Zhang
Weekly French lessons with our Prophet Francophiles
Wine and fries with Prophet President Chiaki Nishino
Through this auction, it was clear that Propheteers were ready to fully embrace the firm’s new values. Prophet’s “Give and Grow” value especially came to life as the entire firm offered talents, time and money in support of Partners In Health. Item exchanges traversed continents, bidding wars sparked conversation on hidden abilities and our value of “Share Joy” emanated across global offices as we came together and celebrated one another’s creativity and artistry.
The Prophet Impact Auction is one of the ways we live our purpose to move society forward and create impact for our local and global communities. We find the best way to tackle societal, economic and environmental challenges is by coming together. Learn more about our other Prophet Impact programs here.
Powering Positive Impact: A Recap of Prophet Impact Day 2022
Reflecting on our firm’s annual volunteer day and our goal to drive positive impact in our societies.
On Friday, July 15, over 435 Prophet employees around the globe gave back to their local communities as part of Prophet Impact Day—an annual event where our entire firm pauses and focuses on elevating the work of organizations that are making a positive impact in our societies.
The last few years have presented significant societal, economic and environmental challenges and, of course, a global pandemic. While we have reinvented what Prophet Impact Day (previously known as P4NP) means for us as individuals and as a firm, we remain committed to taking on these challenges head-on and doing our part to amplify the work of nonprofit organizations where we live and work. In broadening the scope of this volunteer day, we have a renewed focus on addressing the causes that our employees are most passionate about: sustainability, equality and social mobility.
This year, on our 8th annual Prophet Impact Day, we partnered with over 25 organizations and dedicated over 1400 hours to create an impact in our communities.
Propheteers engaged in a wide array of activities this year supporting a diverse range of causes:
Sorting donations and preparing meals to help underserved communities in Atlanta, Richmond, New York, Chicago and Hong Kong
Remodeling temporary shelters for Ukrainian refugees arriving in Berlin
Getting our hands dirty in efforts to help community farms and keep parks and beaches clean in London, Singapore, Zurich and San Francisco
Empowering the next generation of young leaders in Austin and Shanghai
Using our business expertise to consult local nonprofits–including Florham Park Educational Fund, Charlotte Rescue Mission, Alaina’s Voice and Austin Pets Alive– to help them grow and achieve their missions.
Whether our employees were in-person, virtual, working in groups or independently, Propheteers across the firm had flexible opportunities to support the causes they’re passionate about. Prophet Impact Day also provided a chance for our teams to connect with colleagues outside of the regular day-to-day, building new relationships and nurturing old ones.
“It was so energizing to see the photos and hear a bit about the experiences that were shared around the globe. It’s this type of leadership, sense of understanding, empathy and excellence in our work that makes me extremely proud of our firm and what we can accomplish together.”
With our ever-growing headcount, we continue to find ways to build participation in our offices and give our teams the opportunity to make their own impact. With the world more in need than ever before, we continue to look for more ways to make a difference in our local communities through our Prophet Impact initiatives including volunteer time off, our pro-bono program and beyond. Together with our partners, we strive to build a healthier, more compassionate, more just world.
In 2020, Prophet embarked on a sustainability journey to assess our climate choices and identify steps we can take towards a greener future. We partnered with South Pole to understand our current environmental impacts, see how we stack up against peers and identify potential areas for improvement. Over the last year, we have gone through piles of data and reports from our enterprise-wide audit across global offices to understand Prophet’s carbon emissions and climate change risks.
SBT’s. GHG. CO2te. Net-Zero. Scopes 1-3. What does this all mean? How does a circular design affect the way we look at our economy? How do we interpret the results of our GHG emission report to guide climate actions? How do we inspire our people to act and have a tangible impact on our clients and in our communities? These are just some of the questions we’ve been asking since we began our sustainability journey and Earth Month presented an opportunity to pose these questions to our larger community at Prophet. We knew it was critical to engage Propheteers to share Prophet’s progress in our sustainability journey and be a part of the conversation.
Earth Month Recap
One day is simply not enough to immerse in conservation and celebrate this beautiful planet we call home. So, with Earth Day on April 22nd, the Prophet Impact Sustainability Team took Propheteers on a month-long sustainability journey. This April, we spotlighted Mother Earth through a variety of programming to spark learning, conversation and action around sustainability across the firm.
Our first event was an inspiring start to Earth Month and exposed Propheteers to the different actors that are working together to slow down the negative impacts of climate change. Special guest panelists, Marc O’Brien, Co-founder of Climate Designers, Rosalia Lugo, Environmental Health Activist, Austin Whitman, Founder and CEO of Climate Neutral, and our very own Tosson El Noshokaty, Founding Partner and Advisor for Good Carbon and Oceans2050, shared their perspectives on the climate crisis and how they are leading a more sustainable future across sectors.
Our second educational event was all about circular design. Propheteers learned about shifting to a circular economy and key design principles to create more sustainable products, services and solutions. Propheteers had a chance to break out into small groups and ideate around a real-life design challenge to apply these circular design principles and learn how these concepts might play into our lives and work at Prophet. We also shared some of the client stories that put sustainability at the center: from working with a nonprofit to protect biodiversity in Vietnam, to partnering with a high growth organization focused on building a sustainable and productive food system, to envisioning a fast-food brand’s future kitchen where material and energy waste is designed out.
Our final event looked internally and provided Propheteers with an overview of our sustainability journey from the South Pole team. Propheteers gained insight into key climate terms like Scope 1-2-3 emissions, carbon credits, and net-zero. In addition to sharing Prophet’s GHG footprint from 2019 and 2020, we also began to explore what actions we might take to start reducing our carbon footprint such as setting a science-based target, leveraging renewable energy, and investing in climate credits.
“We know that our own sustainability journey can always be enhanced and Prophet and our clients can continue to do better for our planet.”
Alongside these educational events, we held an Earth Day Every Day photo challenge, where Propheteers were invited to submit photos in three categories: #Act Now, #Natural Beauty and #Nature Selfie. From photos of a glacier park in Iceland to the mighty Iguazu Falls, Propheteers captured the scenic wonders of our Planet. There were also photos of trash piling up in Hawai’i and an overflowing makeshift trash can that highlighted the urgent need to take action now to build a greener future together. Propheteers across the firm also gathered with their local office teammates in person and virtually to celebrate Earth Day. There was fun to be had- from panting succulents to enjoying a plant-based meal together, to participating in a sustainability-themed trivia.
Prophet’s Next Steps
So where are going from here?
At the individual level, we hope that Earth Month inspired Propheteers around what it means to live more sustainably. Many have committed to making more sustainable choices daily and volunteering their time to participate in sustainability-focused activities during our upcoming Prophet Impact Day.
At the firm level, Prophet will be continuing to partner with South Pole to declare a greenhouse gas reduction goal (e.g., Net Zero), and subsequently develop sustainability strategies and a roadmap to reduce our carbon footprint. On the client-side, Prophet has dedicated resources to building a suite of ESG offers to help business leaders apply a systems thinking mindset that involves the planet and elevates sustainability in their organizations. ESG efforts will be critical to making sustainability more “real” across the business world.
Finally, at the global level, we will continue to spotlight and drive action for more sustainable practices, both within our firm, to our clients and to our networks. We know that our own sustainability journey can always be enhanced and Prophet and our clients can continue to do better for our planet.
While Earth Month at Prophet may have ended, the conversations around climate and sustainability continue. We know it will take a coordinated effort between governments, institutions, businesses and people all over the world to build a more sustainable future. At Prophet, we are proud to be taking steps in our own sustainability journey.
Prophet Launches Extended Pro-Bono Consulting Program
Using a new agile-sprint approach, our pro-bono team helped this nonprofit in Kenya formalize its brand.
We’re shaking things up at Prophet Impact! This year we are using a new rotation model to offer uninterrupted support and build stronger relationships with our non-profit partners. Though pro-bono work with organizations that speak to our heart continues to fuel our passion to make the world a better place, we’re doing it differently.
We’ve dedicated a team of Propheteers that’s sole responsibility is to dive into the pro-bono work for non-profits, including the sourcing of organizations as well as the projects themselves for a month or more at a time. By fully immersing themselves in the project, the Prophet Impact team finds solutions that are on target and transformative, helping worthy nonprofits achieve next-level growth, just like our corporate clients.
Our First Pro-Bono Client
KenSAP, an educational organization based in Kenya, became the first to benefit from this pod-based transformation, thanks to Shina Leboo, a senior associate based out of Chicago. The nonprofit guides gifted students, many from remote rural areas, to distinguished U.S. colleges by helping them navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration system, college entrance exams and university applications.
Shina, an alumna of the program and on KenSAP’s board of directors, knew the organization could benefit from Prophet’s insights and strategy work, specifically when it came to storytelling and communications. It needed a formalized brand and a standardized story.
“The deliverables were exactly what we needed and came with a level of detail we wouldn’t have reached on our own.”
With Prophet’s expertise in developing brands and brand stories, KenSAP was a natural fit for the first pod-based approach. “Pitching KenSAP for Prophet Impact was a quick conversation, and I didn’t feel like I had to struggle at all to explain it,” Shina says. “It made me realize what a good decision I’d made in joining Prophet. In some companies, you need to be around for years before you can speak that openly.”
Jill Steele, partner and leader of Prophet Impact, says Shina’s intense connection to the organization kicked off the program strongly. “She had so much passion for KenSAP – both as a participant and a board member – and that’s what makes the difference,” Jill said.“There are many great nonprofits we could work with. But by selecting those that are not only aligned with Prophet’s social impact focus areas but also deeply meaningful to our people, we can create solutions that have maximum impact.”
Elevating Brand Story and Impact
Free from other client duties, the team dug right in with a four-week, agile sprint to develop the brand story and corresponding tactical communication tools. Building on interviews with stakeholders — students, alumni and donors – the work showcases what makes KenSAP unique and important. Instead of focusing simply on programs and activities, it elevated the brand story, emphasizing aspirations and impact.
Most importantly, the frameworks were designed to easily adapt across audiences and channels and effortlessly executed by the organization’s small staff, which is often pulled in different directions. The marketing roadmap provided a foundation for communicating with universities, employers and donors and functioned well on its website, in digital communications and in the organization’s annual report.
The result was a major win for KenSAP. “The Prophet team listened, not overwhelming us and understanding that we’re a small organization,” says Alan Davidson, Executive Director of KenSAP.
Rewarding Work For Prophet’s People:
Jarrett Fein, San Francisco
“Of course, we always believe we are doing good work for our clients. But at the end of this engagement, it was so gratifying to hear the client say, ‘You can’t imagine how much this is going to help us.’ That confirmed everything – not just the solutions we provided but also to validate this immersive, fast-paced approach we designed worked.”
Shina Leboo, Chicago
“My role on this project was advisory, but even from that vantage point, it solidified my perception that Prophet fully intends to do as much as possible with each pro-bono project. It was also fascinating to see where the work led. Because the group was 100% devoted to the project, it was easier for KenSAP to achieve a much higher confidence level. ”
Ammar Mahesri, Chicago
“I was moved by how focused KenSAP is on achieving its mission and serving its communities, despite being burdened with the administrative hurdles that nonprofits face. And I’m most proud of how quickly we were able to do it, delivering a complete solution to a complex problem. Because of this work, more young people are going to get the education they deserve.”
Becca Thorpe, New York
“Navigating cultural differences can be a lot, and I’m so impressed that these students are able to balance it all on top of a heavy academic load. On the project, I loved the way the team jumped right in and I felt like it paid off. ”
Prophet is committed to moving society forward, focusing on equality, social mobility and sustainability. This year alone, we will donate more than four thousand hours of pro and low-bono work to help organizations achieve these goals. Learn more about Prophet Impact.
Prophet Looks Back on a Month of Pride Celebrations
Taking a broader view at what it means to be gay at work, promoting authenticity all 12 months of the year.
During the past month, there was no shortage of memes and think pieces discussing the temporary nature of the celebration of pride, especially for corporate entities. When July 1 hit, the rainbows came down and most were none the wiser. Like all celebratory months or days that acknowledge otherwise underrepresented groups, there’s always a question about why we only do this for a part of the year. Why not celebrate year-round? We’re gay or lesbian or bi or transgender or an ally 365 days a year. The tokenization of minorities of all kinds has come to be an unfortunate hallmark of today’s corporate culture even as businesses invest in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and education.
Pride at Prophet has been in existence for a few years. Prior to the formation of any ERGs (employee resource groups) at Prophet, there was a general shared sense of wellbeing for LGBTQIA+ employees because of the composition of our leadership team, the firm’s clear investment in pro-bono work for relevant causes and the visible sense of recognition that comes with seeing others like you. As the firm grew, a clear need to better acknowledge different, diverse cohorts within the organization became clear, and over the last three years several different affinity groups have naturally— and intentionally —formed to make an impact at Prophet.
“A clear need to better acknowledge different, diverse cohorts within the organization became clear, and over the last three years several different affinity groups have naturally— and intentionally —formed to make an impact at Prophet.”
We’ve celebrated pride as an organization in different ways for many years, but given remote work life, Prophet decided to take a broader approach to Pride Month celebrations this year. With local office teams unable to come together physically, we curated a program of blog posts, panel discussions, virtual events and playlists that put a spotlight on a community that is as diverse as it is unique. But what the program mainly did was show that every part of our business, every region, every role, includes members of the “community.” More than 10% of our firm’s employees directly contributed to this month’s content, highlighting the broad depth of experiences embedded within our company and presenting opportunities for allies to engage, learn, support and uplift LGBTQIA+ community members in various forums.
Panel Discussion: ‘Queer in Consulting’
One of the most impactful events was a panel discussion that featured firm leaders and hit on topics including what it’s like to be “queer” in consulting. It featured U.S. and European managers and partners and spanned across our corporate, strategy, design, digital and delivery teams. The conversation reflected on the unique but shared experiences of panelists while highlighting the diversity of their experiences. Overall, the sentiment conveyed by our panelists was the idea of being extremely lucky — lucky for having professionally grown up in industries in which it wasn’t necessarily hard or at least a not big deal to be gay, and lucky for having found a workplace that always encourages its employees to bring their full, true and complete selves to their job.
Many of our attendees found it eye-opening to hear panelists discuss experiences like having to come out again and again to new teams and clients. One of our panelists spoke about being “in and out” as he transitioned through different companies and roles until he got to the point in his professional and personal development where code-switching was no longer an option. From day one of joining Prophet, he belonged in a culture where he felt truly embraced, if not celebrated. Another panelist talked about the “boys club” environment of the ad world that had surrounded him for most of his career. This made him prioritize finding a workplace that fostered a more diverse environment and eventually led him to become a Propheteer.
A third panelist recalled a statement he had to make during his interview process. In the interview, the panelist explained that he wouldn’t be successful if the firm expected him to change who he fundamentally is and how he expresses himself. For many of us, it’s taken a lifetime to build up the strength and confidence to be our best selves at work. Uncomfortable questions are asked by clients, colleagues make assumptions, we sometimes find ourselves in situations where we feel we don’t belong. Creating a comfortable environment for everyone no matter how they identify is something we are committed to as a firm.
Our programming this year was focused on raising the profile of the impact and broad-ranging reality of the “gay” experience in the workplace and beyond to help celebrate the fact that the diversity of our perspectives makes our business and community stronger.
Prophet’s Pro-Bono Journey With the LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Movement – A 20-Year Journey
Stories–understanding how legal issues impacted the everyday lives of people–turned the tide.
In the spring of 2000, I was approached by a colleague and friend to consider doing some pro-bono work for a small nonprofit with a critical strategy project. I was caught off guard. Our company, relaunched as Prophet Brand in 1999, was in the middle of its first growth surge, powered by David Aaker’s global brand guru status and the Dot.com investment boom. As a young, fast-growing firm, we were having a hard time establishing our culture, growing our team, defining our methodologies and driving high-quality work for paying clients. I struggled to envision how we would be able to free up the time and resources to also do high-quality work for pro-bono clients. My mid-30’s CEO mindset sensed that this was a luxury we couldn’t afford. Luckily for me, this Prophet colleague – Cathy Halligan – didn’t give up. She was determined to help me see why doing this kind of work was consistent with our aspiration as a firm and my hopes as a leader.
The nonprofit organization had a passionate leadership team that enabled some of the only visible wins for its movement in the United States. But, it found itself at a crossroads. Its talented executive director, team and board needed to figure out how to capitalize on its strengths and build a story that would help power the organization and its resources to more transformational impact. As Cathy Halligan consistently argued, Prophet circa 2000 had exactly the right mix of expertise and perspective to help solve this problem. If we weren’t ready to generously apply our time and talents to helping change leaders answer their hardest brand and narrative questions, what were we here for?
Her persuasive words and spirit have stayed with me to this day. Cathy’s determined efforts led us to shape our first pro-bono project in the fall of 2000 with The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. It was the first of what’s become a series of Prophet pro-bono efforts to support a range of US organizations committed to advancing LGBTQ+ civil rights in the United States and globally.
Starting Our Work With LGBTQ+ Civil Rights
It may be hard to remember the state of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement at the turn of the century. Bill Clinton had signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996, stating that marriage could only be between one man and one woman. At the state level, many anti-LGBTQ+ laws and ballot measures were getting passed left, right and center. Also, the AIDS crisis was still roiling the broader LGBTQ+ community. Times felt dark.
The single bright spot of progress was in the courts, where courageous citizens and their lawyers were bringing legal challenges to some of the most oppressive anti-LGBT laws. Lambda Legal and some of its allies were the driving forces behind this strategy. They would identify the most egregious laws that allowed for discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, education, etc., or that still criminalized consensual LGBTQ+ relationship behavior between consenting adults, find plaintiffs who would sue the government asserting that these laws were unconstitutional, and then provide the plaintiffs with all the legal support needed to execute the cases. Through this strategy, Lambda Legal helped win the first HIV/AIDS discrimination case in the 1980s, won a historical legal precedent holding schools accountable for harassment and violence against LGBTQ+ students in the 1990s and achieved broad progress on so many other legal battlefields.
But the organization was made up of lawyers using lawyer-speak in all their communications, was chronically under-funded and was not well-known or understood even within the LGBTQ+ community, let alone the broader public. Our job was to help them land on an aspirational purpose, brand strategy, narrative and roadmap that would help elevate its impact, enable transformative change, dramatically increase its donor base and elevate its reputation among the broader movement.
We unlocked a critical insight – most people didn’t understand how the outcomes of Lambda’s work would impact the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ people, families and communities. We needed to help them turn their legal strategies into human stories told through the faces and voices of those directly affected. We needed to help them develop a storyline that up-leveled the context of their work – to help people understand how making progress through the courts was an essential building block to advance the movement’s broader civil rights agenda. The selected strategy created a second major plank for the organization – a commitment to investing in dialogue-shaping education, as well as precedent-setting litigation in the pursuit of social justice. The way in which it was embraced and executed fundamentally changed the character and trajectory of Lambda Legal, elevating its influence, dramatically increasing its fundraising prowess and growing its capacity and resources to drive transformative change.
Adding on to the Movement
Later that decade, we found another organization in the LGBTQ+ movement – Equality California – a trailblazer with charismatic leadership and an excellent track record of advancing the most comprehensive set LGBTQ+ legal protections passed by elected officials and politicians anywhere in the United States. Prophet aligned itself to support Equality California when the organization and the movement were at an incredibly low point. Many were blaming the organization for losing the “No on Prop 8” anti-gay marriage California ballot initiative in the 2008 election, in effect ripping away hard-earned marriage rights and putting the legal status of 18,000 same-sex marriages from the previous 4 months in limbo.
Equality California had to learn to acknowledge the mistakes with grace and humility while finding a new way forward. We dug deep to unlock a new set of insights across an array of stakeholders and learned that there was an opportunity to reposition the organization as a champion for full equality for LGBTQ+ Californians, not just same-sex marriage. Getting legal rights was not enough if it didn’t lead to a pervasive change in the “lived” experiences of LGBTQ+ citizens across all dimensions of their lives. And that marriage, while important, was only one of the vital steps in this path to full “lived’ equality.
This kicked off what turned out to be a 10-year plus relationship with leadership at Equality California. Over the course of our partnership, we found many ways to support its leaders and its mission. For example, we helped provide detailed insights work to understand how to shift perceptions of potential allies and voters as LGBTQ+ civil rights were tested through ballot propositions. We also helped with donor growth strategies and volunteer mobilization campaigns.
In 2017 and 2018, we helped the next generation of leaders unlock a new purpose and story for Equality California after the marriage question had been settled. What should “full and lasting” equality look like? There were still dramatic disparities in the health and wellbeing of the community and continuous attacks on the gains that had been achieved. How could Equality California become a movement builder, intersectional and inclusive in nature, and fit for a new era of digital activism, grassroots energy and urgent necessity? We helped them answer these questions, and then retooled the brand along with its look and feel to reflect the new strategy. “Until the work is done” became the phrase that captured the spirit and the intention of this team.
Celebrating 20 Years of Giving Back
While these stories spotlight the bookends of 20 years’ worth of pro-bono energy and commitment to this movement, there have been many other organizations and themes that Prophet teams have touched along the way. We’ve rebranded a groundbreaking leader in its drive to create safe, respectful and healthy K-12 schools for LGBTQ+ students, helped to enrich stories for teams working to redefine LGBTQ+ images in the media and supported leaders tackling the tough issue of LGBTQ+ youth suicide rates and homelessness. No matter what the organization or the issues, committed Propheteers stepped up to the table with energy, expertise, humility and compassion to deconstruct thorny questions, unlock new insights and co-create positive strategies, programs, identities and narratives to move the work forward.
As we launch the next chapter of Prophet Impact, with three focus areas – equality, social mobility and sustainability – my hope is that we can build upon our journey within the LGBTQ+ movement, and the organizations and grassroots advocates who power it. Prophet has grown in scope and scale now, with a deeper set of capabilities to support bold organizations aspiring to drive transformative change. Our experience has taught us that it is only with sustained effort that we can hope to support these movements and organizations in our shared desire to drive enduring, meaningful change. And that we must be prepared to continue to invest, even in the face of demoralizing setbacks, fierce resistance and uneven progress.
I am grateful for Cathy Halligan’s persistence more than 20 years ago, and for all the energy that so many creative, strategic, committed teammates have put into this body of work over the years. So much effort and so much heart have been poured into our collaboration with these trailblazing organizations. Our talents elevate the impact of organizations and movements on the ground. We see firsthand the struggles and challenges these movements face in their efforts to drive systemic change. But rather than feel daunted by these realities, we bring even more determination and optimistic energy to the work at hand. We’re enriched and strengthened as professionals and humans through our shared work together – we get way more than we give.
“No matter what the organization or the issues, committed Propheteers stepped up to the table with energy, expertise, humility and compassion to deconstruct thorny questions, unlock new insights and co-create positive strategies, programs, identities and narratives to move the work forward.”
Happy Pride. Happy 20th anniversary, Prophet Impact. Here’s to a new generation of leaders and the next 20 years of effort focused on helping to build a healthier, more compassionate and more just world.
Watch as our employees pour their heart, soul and sweat into pro-bono efforts.
On Prophet for Nonprofit day, Propheteers put their regular work responsibilities on pause and shift their energies toward volunteering or helping local charities solve a brand, business or marketing challenge.
To date we’ve helped over 140 nonprofits around the globe grow better; as a result, the charities we serve are better equipped to deliver on their missions to make the world a safer, healthier and happier place. These are the highlights from our teams, who helped nonprofits “do good across the globe” on Prophet for Nonprofit Day 2019.