Girls Rock! RVA Proves Perfect Client to Kick Off Pro Bono Program

Pro Bono: Sparking change for emerging nonprofits and organizations.

The belief that nonprofits can and do change the world, and an overwhelming desire to help them do just that have been at the center of Sarah Milston’s career for over a decade. A passion to provide retreat facilitation, basic strategic planning, or other guidance to nonprofits without financial means led to the recent launch of an official pro bono program at The Spark Mill. This was largely inspired by this awesome book - How to Give Away Half Your Work for Free. 


Nonprofit organizations, in general, are a commendable group – with causes near and dear to our hearts, relying on volunteers to accomplish much of their work, and generally working with limited budgets.  As such, The Spark Mill has set some parameters around the program, namely an annual budget not to exceed $150,000 and a cap of 10 hours of pro bono services.  The idea being - if The Spark Mill can effect needed change with 10 hours of dedicated work an organization otherwise could not afford – that is a viable candidate for the program.              


Sarah facilitated a one-day retreat with the all-volunteer staff where they worked on a map of their landscape, identified short-term and long-term goals and strategies to achieve those goals.  Together they came up with a more comprehensive mission statement and put their values on paper, ensuring everyone was on the same page going forward. Following the retreat, The Spark Mill took the information gathered and created a basic two year Strategic Plan for Girls Rock! RVA.  

After the retreat, The Spark Mill reached out to Girls Rock! RVA to get some feedback on their experience, and they said  

“The organizers of Girls Rock! RVA are a passionate bunch, and we have a range of personal, political, and artistic motivations for the work that we do with our nonprofit. It gets emotional for us sometimes, which is generally a positive thing, but as a group of working artists/activists, running and growing Girls Rock can feel overwhelming at times. This visioning session made us feel much more in control of our work, more confident in achieving our goals and realizing our mission, and helped us discover resources, both internal and external, to put to use for our organization and the people we serve.”
— Patty Conway, Board Member

About Girls Rock! Rva

Their mission: We empower girls, gender non-conforming, and trans youth through music, art and activism.

What they do: week-long summer music & arts camps, free richmond instrument lending library