Digest #2

This is the second number of “Bureau Verstak” digest. We decided that some of them will be written entirely by particular members of our team, sharing their experience about several things at once. So this first personal number of our digest is written by me, Maria Chernyh.

Maria Chernyh
project manager and co-founder of “Bureau Verstak”

 I will tell you below how we started to collaborate with social projects, share some advices on working pro bono and say a few words about my favorite day-to-day superhero.

“Pro bono”: how to succeed in helping others
Pro bono (lat. pro bono publico — for the public good) is a professional work undertaken voluntarily and provided for charity, social and other non-commercial organizations, and private customers.

1. Estimate your capacities. Which amount of work time and energy you can dedicate to such projects? Define it and don’t exceed it to keep the golden balance between your commercial projects and pro bono.

2. Always know your goals and what you will get by working pro bono. It can be PR, mutual support, collaboration or advantageous expansion of your portfolio.

3. Work as usual: pro bono client is nothing different from any commercial client. Sometimes voluntary work gets less attention and you have to avoid this as best as you can, for your professional reputation depends on all your projects with no exceptions.

4. Pro bono experience has to be positive for all participants. It depends on you whether or not your employees get paid for extra time at work, but you must make the process enjoyable for everybody.

5. There are many people you can help, so it is crucial to decide what you want to do and for whom. Choose criteria for those non-commercial organizations you want to work with. It can be professional sphere, or geography, or any other feature — the most important is to know the main direction.

Those who want and can help professionally in their sphere: our friends “Social Technologies Greenhouse” launched recently a project “Páseka” (rus. for “apiary”).

Everything started from “Step Up” It is hard to believe but it’s been almost a year and a half since we went to Pecha Kucha Moscow in April 2014, looking for inspiration what to do in the future. If you haven’t been to Pecha Kucha, you have to come — it is a marvelous hybrid conference of intellectual talks and conversations in friendly atmosphere which takes place several times a year.

That time among other speakers was Daria Alekseeva, and she brought a presentation “Why volunteers are not saints”. We got so inspired by the story of her experience and the center “Step Up” that on the way home we decided that this was what we would like to do.
A couple of days later I wrote a letter to Daria telling that we wanted to help but didn’t know how. Now it’s been a year and a half since we collaborate with “Step Up” and other social projects, and Dasha and I became very close friends.

Tomorrow, the 11th of November, the center “Step Up!” celebrates their fifth year, and I think that it’s not a coincidence that our two birthdays, mine and “Step Up’s” are so close. For this date we prepared together a handbook titled “To love and feed and other methods of social adaptation”.


On the good deeds Apart from my beloved job at “Verstak” I have another source of inspiration — comics and superheroes. For me it’s not about stories of eternal battle of Good and Evil, it’s about somebody who always can come and help you and that everybody can become a superhero.

One of my favorite superheroes is Daredevil), a superhero of day-to-day life. By night he fights against criminals of his area, but this is not his only face. In his civilian identity and despite his blindness, Daredevil is a skilled and respected New York attorney. He is a skilled detective, tracker, and interrogation expert, as well as being an expert marksman. He takes most complicate cases, win them and help people in trouble who sometimes don’t have money to hire a lawyer.

It is not difficult to be a superhero and fight against the Evil if you’re an owner of a huge company. The other thing is to start changing the world despite all the obstacles, were they general or personal, like Daredevil’s blindness.
Look around you: the world is full of opportunities to make great things. And you’re the hero who can help.


P.S. Little addition from “Bureau Verstak” team: we chose Masha to be the author of this number because today, the 10th of November, is Masha’s birthday! Our dear leader and captain, we wish you happy birthday and many smiles in the upcoming year. Hurray!