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20 years of Pro Bono Australia

“To hold an intention, an idea and see it come to life is a wonderful thing. As the Irish poet John O’Donohue said facts are the children of possibility and, when I look back at 20 years of Pro Bono Australia, I find this is true.

Pro Bono Australia has often been ahead of the game – sometimes too far ahead, which is a lesson in itself. But there’s no doubt that with many initiatives our timing has been right.

Our task then and now is to support an engaged and valued civil society.


Karen Mahlab AM
Publisher and founder
Pro Bono Australia

Looking back

We’ve had a rummage in the archives and gathered up some of Pro Bono Australia’s highlights over the last 20 years. Scroll through our timeline to see how far we’ve come since 2000.

Cool Timeline

Pro Bono Australia was born
2000 Website Screenshot

Do you like how our brand spanking new website in the year 2000?! ^

In the late 1990s, Karen Mahlab AM decided she needed a change. After running a publishing company for 10 years, she felt the process of business for the sake of profit no longer inspired her. 

Inspired by the growth of the internet, she wanted to create an online business that could bring together community and make a difference. Taking the Guide to Giving, which she had started under the Mahlab Group in 1990, as a ready revenue stream she created what she called a “social purpose business venture”. 

She added Pro Bono News, which is now the number one news outlet for Australia’s social economy and has published over 15,000 articles. 

VolunteerMatch and Pro Bono Jobs
Pro Bono Careers homepage

We believe society is better off when there is a thriving social economy. So, in an effort to resource the for-purpose sector, we decided to launch a job board and volunteering platform. Since then, we’re proud to have helped thousands of purpose-driven organisations find skilled, capable and socially-minded volunteers and staff. If you’re looking for your next dream role, or do you want to find your next purpose-driven employee, we’ve got you covered. 

Events calendar
Team photo shoot

Our events calendar was launched so that socially-minded individuals like yourself had a place to find out what’s happening. From not for profit and charity fundraisers, to workshops and conferences, you’ll never have FOMO again thanks to our event board.

Fun fact: in 2009, we also did some promo shots for our website!

Good Business

Not everything in business is about profit. So, we decided to create a platform that celebrated organisations who are using business to make an impact and address social issues. Take a look around the platform here

We also now have a monthly Good Business news edition, sent out on the first Wednesday of each month. Subscribe here to stay across the latest news covering the world of social enterprise, co-operatives, corporate social responsibility and impact investing.

Salary Survey
Salary Survey report

Whether you’re negotiating your salary or adjusting what you pay your staff, the Pro Bono Salary Survey can help. Since 2013, the Pro Bono Salary Survey has been helping not-for-profit organisations by mapping out trends and offering in-depth insight and analysis that allows individuals and organisations to effectively benchmark their remuneration practices.

We’ve recently launched the 2020 Salary Survey, which analyses over 1,200 responses across 26 key positions. Test your knowledge here by answering six questions based on data from the latest report. 

Became a B Corp

B Corps represent organisations that are using the power of business to create a positive impact on the world. We’re proud to be a part of the B Corp community! 

Impact 25 awards
Impact 25 website

Every day, the team at Pro Bono Australia hear stories of inspiring individuals making significant impact in the social sector. From this grew a desire to recognise the important work done in the community that can often go unnoticed and unthanked. So, we launched the Impact 25 awards to celebrate the inspirational people in Australia’s social economy.

During the 2019 awards, we received 390 nominations and 28,300 votes. Meet the 2019 winners.

Educational webinars
Webinar on screen

Our 60-minute webinars are the capacity building tool you need to help you grow your impact. Curated specifically for people working in purpose-driven organisations, they’ll equip you with actionable takeaways that you can implement in your day-to-day. Now, we educate more than 2,500 individuals each and every year. Take a look at our past and upcoming webinars

Social impact measurement

As a social enterprise, creating real value is at the heart of everything we do. With this in mind, we’re pretty proud that our social return on investment was measured by EY in 2015 at 11:1. What does that mean? Glad you asked. For every dollar invested in our services, $11 of social benefit was delivered to the community. 

To celebrate, we had a fun interactive graphic made, so have a play and learn more about our products and their impact.

Civil Voices
Civil Voices website

We launched the Civil Voices initiative to examine NGO perceptions about their capacity to participate in public debate. We found that organisations are engaging in various forms of “self silencing” – treading very carefully in their advocacy work less they risk financial security and political retribution. We believe civil society needs to be supported and encouraged to engage in frank and fearless advocacy, so we put together resources, including a webinar and podcast, to help organisations learn more about advocating. Explore them now

Espresso Martinis + Impact
Espresso Martini and Impact

We partnered with Vollie to launch Espresso Martinis + Impact – an event series that brings together Melbourne’s two favourite things… Espresso Martinis and that burning desire to make the world a better place. Our events attracted over 200 changemakers from the corporate, government, social enterprise and NFP sectors, and facilitated meaningful discussions about how to operate as ethically as possible.

Pro Bono Grants

We know that for many purpose-driven organisations, grants can be essential. That’s why we partnered with Strategic Grants to help you find and apply for relevant funding opportunities. Each month, we update the page with a dozen new grants, across Australia. Strategic Grants has also provided plenty of handy tips so you can be funder ready. If on the flipside you are a grant maker, you are free to use this resource to share your own grant opportunities too.

Pro Bono Australia turns 20! 🥂
Party hats

Of course, it is not all about us. We wouldn’t be here without you – our wonderful community of over 66,000 engaged subscribers and the 1.3 million of you who use our site each year.

So we want to take this opportunity to thank you for coming on the journey with us. Whether you’ve been following us for 20 years or 20 days, we appreciate your support.

We look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you in the future!

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