Armed with suggestions for promotional materials, newsletter and website improvements and sustainability plans, 12 London non-profit organizations are better poised to face the challenges ahead thanks to free business consulting from students at the Richard Ivey School of Business.
As part of the Ivey Connects Community Consulting Project, 48 undergraduate business students provided the organizations with 120 hours of pro bono consulting work. Their projects, which ranged from grant-writing to plans for enticing new board members, volunteers and donors, were presented at a ceremony on Nov. 28 at Ivey.
Stacey Hsu, a business student and director of the Ivey Connects Community Consulting Project, says the goal is to inspire students to contribute to the societies in which they operate on a regular basis.
With Canada on the brink of recession, the six-week project provided much-needed relief at a time when many non-profits are feeling a tighter squeeze on their finances.
“The students brought a business culture to us that we have never seen,” says Deb Hotchkiss, managing director of Partners in Employment, who gained a new funding model thanks to the project. “They left us with some great tools that we can use to help us generate funds.”
Craigwood Youth Services program director Sandra Fieber says the students helped her organization to better match resources with needs.
“They asked us questions about things that we take for granted and really raised our consciousness. We really appreciated the opportunity to engage with young business students,” she says. “The interface between the not-for-profit and business communities is where the solutions lie.”
The project was also helpful for the business students, who cited the value of practical application of their classroom lessons.
“Before this, I had worked on fundraisers, such as selling ribbons, but now working on the other side of things I learned how difficult it can be to raise money,” says Vincey Chui, a business student who worked on the Craigwood project.
Ivey student Shaunvir Sidhu worked with Sohail Khan, Project Manager of Skills International’s London office, on a funding proposal.
“Sohail has an MBA and he used it to raise a non-profit organization from the ground up. It is really inspiring,” he says.
The local non-profits involved in the project included London Regional Children’s Museum, the Alzheimer Society of London and Middlesex, Autism Canada Foundation, Cheshire Homes of London Inc. and Dale Brain Injury Services (integration of services), Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Thames Valley Children’s Centre, Partners in Employment, London International Children’s Festival, Craigwood Youth Services, Skills International, Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and Community Living London.
Ivey partnered with Accenture, a business consulting company, for the initiative, which is in its fourth year.
Ivey Connects is a student-run philanthropic organization that works to inspire business students to incorporate philanthropic giving in their day-to-day lives, and contribute to the societies in which they operate.
For more information, visit the Ivey Connects website.