On a July morning this past summer, a group of Ivey Business School students, clad in red, blue and green T-shirts, met on campus. Although they were given the day off from classes – a rarity in the MBA program – this was not a day off.
These students assembled for Ivey Impact Day, a day put together by the students for their community.
The premise of the day seems simple enough – twice a year, Ivey students put aside their laptops and study notes to dedicate their time to making an impact in the greater London community.
After a communal breakfast and some quick opening remarks, 105 students were deployed to five major organizations: ReForest London, The Mission Store, Rotholme Women’s & Family Shelter, Habitat for Humanity and Unity Project.
Impact Day is, not surprisingly, organized by the Impact Club, an Ivey-based club focused on hosting volunteer events throughout the year.
“It used to be called the Fundraising and Corporate Social Responsibility club, but we changed it to the Impact Club because it instantly communicated what we’re trying to do,” said Anne-Sophie Woolnough, an executive member of the club.
“There’s two Impact Days per year,” Woolnough said. “They happen at the beginning of the program and the end of the program. This allows us as a class to unite over something positive amongst the exams and the readings. It’s nice to get a bit of perspective on what we’re doing.”
Ivey Impact Club president Sarah Richard said the day was meant to remind students how lucky they were to be in school. “If you look around our class, we’re all very fortunate people,” she said. “We’re all in school; we’re all in a masters program; we know we’re all very lucky. But it kind of hit home to be like, ‘You know what, we have the capabilities and the resources to do things for other people, let’s do it.’”
Richard, who spent Ivey Impact Day sorting preserved foods at The Mission Store, said the lack of volunteers made the work overwhelming to the managers at times, and the help was greatly appreciated. “It was actually very eye-opening.”
Students spent their day in a variety of ways.
Woolnough was one of the 60 MBA students who spent time with ReForest London. For four hours that day, the students were pulling weeds and caring for newly planted trees, things people don’t usually take time out of their days to do.
“I think a lot of people say they’re either at work all the time, or they’re with their families or they’re at school,” Woolnough said. “We don’t often take a lot of time to stop and do something else. So to have 105 of us do that, that felt special for us.”
The next Ivey Impact Day is planned for the end of March, during the last week of the MBA program.
Richard and Woolnough said planning is well underway. Woolnough said organizations that can take such a great number of volunteers are limited in London, so planning months in advance is necessary. Ultimately, the goal is not to shepherd an entire class into non-profit work, but to remind them to prioritize.
“Everyone comes to Ivey with a career path in mind,” Woolnough said. “What we try to impart is this thinking that you can have your career path and be successful, but why not be on a board of directors or set some time every month or every week to volunteer?”
Woolnough said, like herself, there is always a student who starts the school year with non-profit work in mind. “There are always a few who go into non-profit work after this program,” she said.
“We try to enhance that part of the students experience and if we can do that much, I’ll be happy.”