James Rothman was matched with the British Red Cross (BRC) to help the charity understand the data it had collected on confidence levels of first aid trainees before and after their training with BRC.
1. How did you find out about volunteering with Pro Bono Economics?
I found out about it through my connections with the Operational Research Society.
2. What were your motivations for doing pro bono economic analysis for charities?
I felt I’d like to help them in the best way I could. Using the technical skills that I have acquired over years of working in economic consultancy led me to believe it would make sense to use them in this way.
3. What did you hope to achieve with the charity, and to what extent did you?
Firstly, I focused on what British Red Cross wanted as they had set out the goals of the project before I had committed to it. Consultancy is about meeting the client’s questions without being afraid to use your expertise to suggest other possible lines of enquiry or , in some cases todraw attention to any procedural errors.
BRC principal need was to obtain advice on how to summarise and interpret measurements it had made of participants’ confidence levels before and after its training courses. I developed alternative methods of summarisation and explained their advantage and disadvantages we then discussed the results and agreed on courses of action. I also pointed out that the scores might be interpreted to indicate changes in the probability that participants would provide assistance if this was needed. In addition I identified a small group of participants who had started the course with high levels of confidence. I suggested that comments made by this group should be analysed to obtain information about why they had taken their course.
I believe that my contribution increased BRC’s understanding and hope that they will be able to implement the actions that I have suggested.
4. What advice would you give to other volunteer economists who are interesting in doing the same thing?
If you’re familiar with economic consultancy work, this is a great way to use your skills for a good purpose. As with all consultancy, the charity should be approached on a level of equality, do not presume any hierarchy or superiority due to your expertise. Additionally, if there are elements of the work which may be outside your sphere of expertise, do not be afraid to ask others for assistance.
5. Would you get involved with PBE again, and if so, would you do anything differently?
Yes, certainly. However, I would potentially ask for clearer and more concise objectives from the client to begin with, as it becomes more difficult to do once you are more stuck in with the project.
6. And finally, how did Pro Bono Economics help to facilitate the project?
PBE was a great help in the initial phase by setting up contact with the charity on a professional basis. They also helped to maintain the relationship and facilitate greater levels of communication which was valuable to the work.