BNY Mellon: A History of Service

How this global investment company is deepening its community impact through pro bono service
Apr 19, 2019 1:15 PM ET

The 2019 Global Pro Bono Summit, hosted by Taproot Foundation, will take place in New York City this May. Leading up to this gathering, Taproot will be releasing a series of profiles featuring movers and shakers of the pro bono movement, from companies with cutting-edge programs to individuals working towards a more engaged society to nonprofits tapping into pro bono service as a way to deepen their impact on the communities they serve.

A history of service

BNY Mellon recently reached an impressive milestone. In the last 10 years, employees have spent nearly 1 million hours volunteering in their communities through the company’s Community Partnership Program. But their history of service goes back much further than the past decade. It’s a tradition inspired by their founders, who include Alexander Hamilton, and the role they played in supporting the country in its earliest days. Now, their volunteerism takes another form through pro bono.

Pro bono service has long been part of the ethos of BNY Mellon’s legal department. In 2017, the company began to consider how expertise across their global organization—from finance to marketing—could be leveraged to benefit the community, much like their legal expertise. Together with Taproot, BNY Mellon launched an exploratory process to determine how to best apply their diverse talent to make a social impact. After the initial success of pilot programs that engaged their employees in functional areas across the company, it’s clear that BNY Mellon remains committed to their spirit of service.

Deepening their commitment

Pro bono service offers companies a unique way to deepen their relationships with the nonprofit partners they serve, and this was top of mind when BNY Mellon’s Global Philanthropy team set out to design their pro bono program. Not only did they view the initiative as a way to deliver expertise to an increasing number of nonprofits, but they also saw it as an opportunity to develop truly multi-faceted partnerships that profoundly impacted those organizations and the broader community as a whole.

One of those partners is Year Up, a nonprofit that provides young adults with the skills, experience, and support that empower them to reach their full potential through professional careers and higher education. When BNY Mellon was considering a partner to deliver intensive pro bono support to, Year Up felt like a natural fit. These two organizations have close ties: BNY Mellon has been providing grant support to Year Up since 2007. In addition, BNY Mellon has hosted interns and hired talent through Year Up for several years as part of their commitment to diversity, and several of the company’s senior leaders work closely with Year Up.

Now, with pro bono, BNY Mellon can partner with Year Up in new and progressive ways. They recently completed an exciting technology project, with an impact that has extended well beyond the project timeline. Ty Nguyen, Director of National Accounts at Year Up, spoke highly of the BNY Mellon team’s “willingness to roll up their sleeves and immerse themselves in our mission.” Even after the project close, BNY Mellon employees remain eager to support Year Up, with Nguyen describing the BNY Mellon team as “volunteers, mentors, and supporters of our mission.” As their partnership with Year Up has blossomed, it’s become clear to BNY Mellon that deep philanthropic relationships like this are mutually beneficial.

The future of pro bono

The Global Philanthropy team at BNY Mellon understands that the impact of their initiatives is just taking off, but they’ve already seen the gravitational power of pro bono in drawing their employees into their spirit of volunteerism. They have observed pro bono to be an invigorating experience for their employees.  “We knew pro bono would allow us to bring our full value to bear on our nonprofit partnerships and meaningfully engage colleagues in our work,” says Daisey Holmes, Global Head of Philanthropy and CSR. “What we have been impressed and heartened by is employees’ unflagging enthusiasm for this type of service, and the desire for more opportunities.”

The Global Philanthropy team sees a new public-private paradigm on the horizon, where corporate pro bono is a resource that nonprofits can rely upon. A day when their nonprofit partners like Year Up count on their partnership and lean into their expertise, building pro bono into their budget. And a day when all BNY Mellon employees have the opportunity to volunteer their skills for good.

As BNY Mellon begins to envision the future of pro bono service at their company, they remain focused on preserving the mission-driven aspect of this work, even describing meaningful engagement—like pro bono—as “the secret to a happier world.” There’s huge potential for change and growth when employees can learn about the challenges faced by their social sector peers and then address those challenges together, they insist.

Now, as the Impact Sponsor for the 2019  Global Pro Bono Summit, BNY Mellon is looking forward to the opportunity to come together with a diverse cross-sector group of peers, partners, and practitioners in New York, where they were founded. It’s an exciting moment for the pro bono movement—at BNY Mellon and beyond.

Read more about the 2019 Global Pro Bono Summit here.