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Brooke Rothman is Selfish

13 Aug

At least that’s what she’d like us to think…

Brooke Rothman is a glamorous woman. A New Yorker by birth, she has lived all over including Miami, LA and London. By day a brand planner with the boutique ad agency Avrett Free Ginsberg, she makes her living helping large companies figure out who they are and how to tell their stories.

She’s an actress too. In fact, she even appeared in an international soap opera with a pre-fame Megan Fox. While she’s careful to point out that she “essentially played a computer nerd” and it “only showed in Sweden and South Africa”, we think she’s just being modest.

But after spending a few minutes with Brooke, you realize there’s much more to her than globetrotting, high level corporate strategizing. Even a cursory glance at the quotes on her Facebook page, “You will feel fulfilled when you do the impossible for someone else” hints that fabulous waters do, in fact, run deep. This is not your typical soap star turned ad exec.

When Brooke first heard about Catchafire at a networking lunch, she was hooked. Through the website she quickly found a cause that spoke to her: Sahasra Deepika, a non-profit foundation that houses and educates underprivileged children in Bangalore, India. Students are shown how to develop their intellectual, social, and academic potential and to bring this empowerment along into adulthood. Brooke donated 50 hours of brand messaging expertise to Sahasra Deepika and, as she recalls, it was a reciprocated gift:

Sahasra Deepika means “a thousand lights” and it actually changes children’s futures. I love that. My contact there, Sarva Rajendra, was open to new ideas, collaborative and appreciative.

In one conversation she said she felt when she met me she had “found gold.” That was a special moment. It continues to remind me that giving what I’m truly passionate about and what I’m good at can make a powerful difference. 

Brooke has decided to team up with Catchafire’s Founder/CEO Rachael Chong to pitch a panel for the 2013 South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. Geared for SxSW Interactive, the panel is provocatively titled Be Selfish and it aims to inspire attendees to revolutionize their ideas on volunteerism. Brooke and Rachael want to turn selflessness and altruism inside out and get at the deeper motivations for service. Brooke wonders if being motivated by selflessness is even sustainable. She says, “When you have clear intentions and you set goals for your Pro Bono experience, you can always refer when things get a bit rough, or you feel insecure, or you forget why you’re spending your free time helping someone else when you’d rather be out drinking or watching reality TV.”

Read more about the panel, Brooke and Rachael here!

Help us Get to Austin
The SxSW Programmers and Advisory Board rely on crowdsourcing to help them pick final panelists. You can help us get to Austin by voting for our Panel at the SxSW Panel Picker. Keep in mind you’ll need to sign up (they promise not to bug you), you can only vote once and sharing is golden.


Summer is here… It’s Party Time!

11 Jul

You’re invited!

Calling all good samaritans, altruists, bleeding hearts, girl scouts, boy scouts, johnny-on-the-spots, do-gooders, helping hands, humanitarians, philanthropists, pro bono professionals, and would-be volunteers:

We’re hosting our Summer Party on July 19th to celebrate all that our community of professionals and social good organizations has accomplished this year, and we want you there!

We’ll be at New Work City from 7 – 9 p.m. enjoying Robicelli’s brownie bites, Mrs. Dorsey’s grilled cheese sandwiches, Brooklyn Brewery beer, and the company of our inspiring pro bono professionals and social good organizations.

We can’t wait to see you there!

RSVP here to make sure your name gets on the list – tickets are going quickly!

$10 – RSVP on Eventbrite
July 19th, 7-9PM
New Work City, 412 Broadway, Floor 2, New York, NY 10013

Thank you to our Sponsors:

Why You’ll Be In Business Next Year – 2 for 1 deal on first workshop

27 Mar

Catchafire is proud to be an outreach partner with The Social Innovators Collective for their upcoming workshop series. The series starts next Tuesday, April 3rd at General Assembly and, to kick off the event, The Social Innovators Collective is offering a “two for the price of one” deal. Here’s the skinny:

The evening begins at 6:30 with “What Nonprofits Need to Know to Survive” taught by Matthew Klein, Executive Director of Blue Ridge Foundation. During this 90-minute class, Matthew will share critical insights from his many years working with nonprofit organizations.

Then at 8:00pm Andrew Greenblatt, Founder and President of Vendorboon, follows with “Identifying A Winning Business Model and Revenue Stream.” Andrew will unveil key information and pose essential questions you need to answer in order to best position your enterprise for success.

The series was created to address the question: Why are so many startup social enterprises and nonprofit organizations failing? This workshop offers not only answers, but solutions.

For information and tickets (series/single):


– Tuesday, April 3 – Why You’ll Be In Business Next Year

6:30 – 8pm: What Nonprofits Need to Know To Survive

8:00 – 9:30pm: Identifying a Winning Business Model and Revenue Stream

Tuesday, April 10th – How to Run a World-Class Organization: One Day at a Time

– Tuesday, April 17th – The Art of Business Development + Partnerships

– Tuesady, April 24thEssentials of Operational Finance for Your Organization to Thrive

The above workshops will be taught by Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Blue Ridge Foundation and NYC adjunct professor; Andrew Greenblatt, President of Vendorboon and NYC adjunct professor; Aria Finger, COO of Do Something and NYC adjunct professor; Anand McGowan, Head of Business Development at General Assembly and Susan Hepner, CEO of accounting firm Raffa PC.

  • The series is designed as a whole, but you can also sign up for individual classes
  • 20% Discount Code: PARTNER
  • Class Format: Each class will have a 45-60 minute presentation that will be followed by a short break, an interactive exercise and finally Q&A. Networking from 9:30 -10pm will follow.


  • A checklist of what a founder needs to best ensure success
  • Ten reasons why non-profits and social enterprise organizations fail
  • For the large number of organizations and companies that fail, how could the founder have stopped the organization’s impending demise
  • A practical checklist that anyone can use to make sure their organization is on the right track
  • Tools to help guide founders in planning and articulating their organizations’ value
  • Insight into how funders evaluate early stage social enterprises and nonprofits
  • A new network of social-venture savvy peers committed to leading healthy social enterprises and nonprofit organizations
  • Case studies on a great turn-around efforts
  • Access to industry leaders who are committed to the financial health of up-and-coming social good organizations

Outreach partners:

Series Producer

The Social Innovators Collective is an international network of emerging founders, leaders and individuals who work in the social enterprise and nonprofit sectors. The Collective was born in 2010 when a handful of New York-based social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders realized that they were dealing with strikingly similar challenges, and that by leveraging our collective resources and insights they could overcome those challenges. Currently, they connect through an online forum, workshops, social events and Mastermind Sessions (peer to peer mentoring). The story of how they began was featured in NextBillion – last December.

Media Alert – Boston Panel Event

15 Feb

Leveraging Pro Bono Talent to Build Organizational Capacity 

An Expert Panel Discussion in Boston

New York, NY – February 15, 2012 – We’ve assembled a panel of esteemed speakers from Boston’s social good sector. We will get together later this month and spend an evening discussing how to use pro bono to effectively build capacity within a nonprofit or social good organization.

Since coming on board in 2010, Prosperity Candle, a Boston-based organization, has successfully completed 11 Catchafire projects – including branding, marketing, social media, PR and strategy – to dramatically enhance their social impact. This amounts to 355 hours pro bono time and $82,500 in organization savings. Says Properity Candle co-founder, Siiri Morley:

Catchafire fills an important role in the social sector. As a young social enterprise start-up, Prosperity Candle struggles with limited resources and huge ambitions. Catchafire offers a perfect solution – with a small investment we can get fantastic talent that truly delivers on the proposed scope.”

The panelists:

  • Matthew Segneri, Advisor to the Mayor at City of Boston
  • Jennifer Aronson, Director of Nonprofit Services, The Boston Foundation
  • Selena Schmidt, CEO, Common Impact
  • Andrew Wolk, Founder – Root Cause
  • Rachael Chong, Founder and CEO, Catchafire

We’re inviting all nonprofits and social enterprises in the Boston area to join us for an evening of inspirational learning, sharing, meeting old friends and making new friends.

Where: New England Research & Development (NERD) Center
When: Monday, February 27th
Time: 5:00pm – 7:30pm
Fee: Free

5:00 – 6:00pm: Panel
6:00 – 7:30pm: Networking and Refreshments

About Catchafire:
Catchafire is the largest pro bono service provider in NYC. Through Catchafire, social good organizations can access professional services at rates that they can afford and professionals can access meaningful skilled volunteering opportunities. Last November we expanded into Boston and welcomed our Boston Founding 30 Members.

Read more about Catchafire here.


Press enquires:

Contact JC Darné
Phone: (646) 400-5659

Interested in attending? Book tickets here.

Connecting for Justice in Boston: Thursday Jan 19

12 Jan

Socializing for Justice ( is not just Boston’s fastest-growing cross-issue progressive community, they’re also friends of Catchafire.

This organization is the brainchild of local activist, community organizer, and event planner, Robbie Samuels. He believes that the fight for social justice will be more effectively fought if people, representing multiple progressive issues, can get together in a room and connect on their overlapping values.

This Thursday, January 19th from 6-9PM, Socializing for Justice will be hosting it’s largest event of the year, Connecting for Justice, at Lir on Boylston. ”This is a welcoming space where all attendees, diverse by age, race, gender, sexual orientation, newness to Boston, and experience with activism, come together to “put the SOCIAL back in social justice!”

At Connecting for Justice, participants can experience the connecting power of Socializing for Justice for themselves. There will be Action Stations to link attendees with local organizations, “I’m Looking For” and “Ask Me About” tags, a Jobs Board filled with openings from other social change groups and a free Literature Table.

Learn more and RSVP for Connecting for Justice at

Unfortunately Catchafire can’t be there this time, but keep your ears open for some exciting events that we’ll be planning in the months ahead.  We look forward to catching up with our Boston friends soon!

Achieving greater impact with non-profit partners

10 Jan

Thanks to the rising demand for corporate social responsibility, the non-profit world is enjoying more opportunities to partner with eager for-profit businesses. But what about non-profit / non-profit partnerships? While it’s less common, the partnership can still increase the impact of their efforts.

Whenever possible Catchafire has connected different nonprofits and social good organizations. Many have partnered to dramatically enhance their ability to serve their causes… sometimes very different causes. Recently we connected two of our member organizations: Second Chance Toys and tay-bandz / Kids Curing Cancer collaborated this past December to bring gifts to hospitalized children.

The story and impact of Second Chance Toys

In 2006, 15 year-old Sasha Lipton and her mother drove around their New Jersey neighborhood and gathered 50 used toys that former owners had left on the sidewalk for trash collection. They donated them to Babyland’s Family Violence Center in Newark, NJ and Second Chance Toys was born. By providing underprivileged children with toys and preventing thousands of toys from ending up in landfills, they’re effectively serving two causes – children and the environment. This holiday season they reached a record of 100,000 toys donated. Their goal is to donate another 100,000 toys over the next two years.

The story and impact of tay-bandz

Tay-bandz is dedicated to raising awareness and funding research for pediatric cancer. The organization was founded by Taylor Matthews, who at age 11 was diagnosed with cancer. Taylor bravely fought her illness for five years. Her strength came with an enduring sense of compassion for others and a belief that every individual effort can make a difference. Surprisingly, the government provides minimal funding for children’s cancer. Tay-bandz fills this very important gap by funding cutting-edge cancer research. To date, tay-bandz Grants have exceeded $800,000!

Non-profit / non-profit partnerships

“Non-profit / non-profit partnerships – especially the more entrepreneurial organizations – can come together faster [than partnerships with for-profit organizations] on the basis that there is a win-win in the equation for both parties. They have enabled Second Chance Toys to foster new collaborative relationships and the ability to serve a greater number of children in need.” says Second Chance Toys board member Shelly Lipton. While their for-profit partners help with the transportation, Second Chance Toys is able to serve its cause with greater impact thanks to nonprofit partners work directly with children.

For tay-bandz, collaboration with other non-profits has enabled them to take on side projects and accomplish new goals. While their focus is funding for pediatric cancer research, together with its other non-profit partners whose cause is also pediatric cancer, they’re collaborating on two objectives: raising awareness for the cause and establishing a voice in congress. Together, Matthews believes, their organizations can achieve far greater results.

The impact of the Second Chance Toys / tay-bandz partnership

Of the partnership with Second Chance Toys, Sue Matthews, president of tay-bandz said, “Through our collaboration we were able to deliver 55 brand new beautifully wrapped gifts to children with cancer at Columbia Presbyterian Children’s Hospital. Second Chance Toys was awesome to work with and brightened the lives of so many. Thank you Catchafire for introducing us.” Matthews went on to say how simple gestures like delivery of these toys help tay-bandz to continue serving Taylor’s mission of helping other kids.

The Second Chance Toys / tay-bandz partnership is one that neither organization had previously considered, but it was ultimately a perfect fit. Together they touched the lives of 55 underprivileged children who spent Christmas in the hospital. This was no small feat. For Second Chance Toys, the project was seamless but impactful. For tay-bandz, it was both very personal and perfectly in tune with a philosophy of giving to the less fortunate that Taylor Matthews instilled in the organization.


If you would like to learn more about this partnership or about these great organizations, please join us for the Do Right Be Brite Brunch next Saturday, January 14th. The purpose of this monthly event is to highlight different ways to give back in New York. Along with Catchafire and a number of fantastic nonprofits and social enterprises, tay-bandz and Second Chance Toys will be there to share their wisdom and hopefully guide you toward the volunteer experience that’s right for you. Click here to learn more and purchase tickets.

Give What You’re Good At and Develop Professionally

2 Aug

Catchafire teamed up with NY Creative Interns to host “Giving What You’re Good At: Go Pro Bono with Catchafire”, a workshop at the beautiful office of The Morris + King Company. Through the workshop, attendees were able to discover how to effectively leverage pro bono work towards professional development.

The event was attended by social media strategists, designers, entrepreneurs and other professionals interested in using pro bono work to build on existing skills and experiences, gain employment or identify new business opportunities. Catchafire pro bono professionals Andre Davis and Jessica Kantor also gave their testimonials on how their pro bono work continues to contribute to their professional development.

The main takeaway from the evening is that you can make a real impact while developing your skills professionally, simply by giving what you’re good at! If you are interested in giving your time and skills as a pro bono professional, please don’t hesitate to contact us at or check out our open projects and filter by your skill sets.

Check out photos here:

Thanks to Terra Fossil for sponsoring the wine for the evening!

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