Alumni Volunteers

Make an Impact. Easy.

 PRNS Team Commendation

HBS Alumni have found the experience of volunteering for a Community Partners project very rewarding.  Not only is it a unique way for alumni to connect and give back to the community but it is also a wonderful networking opportunity where they meet alumni from all different classes and backgrounds.  Some have found new friendships, new business relationships, and new careers through their Community Partners experience.


If you are interested in learning more about volunteering for a Community Partners project, please contact Executive Director, Elaine MacDonald by using the form at the bottom of this page.

Or if you haven’t seen a project or a community area that interests you, please let us know as we are always looking for new ways and opportunities for our alumni to get involved with their communities.    

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions from our volunteers:

Volunteers’ Frequently Asked Questions:

How much time commitment is expected and how long are projects?

Volunteers on projects average 2-4 hours per week for the duration of the project, with sufficient schedule flexibility to participate in team meetings at a mutually agreed upon time and place.

Community Partner projects typically last 4-6 months from the time the project kicks off.

What are volunteer teams like?

Volunteer teams typically consist of 3-5 HBS alumni from different backgrounds and age ranges.  Through the recruiting process for each project, we try to match alumni with backgrounds that fit the needs of the client organization (e.g. marketing, finance, strategy).  Additionally, alumni usually volunteer for projects in which they have a special interest (e.g. education, arts and culture, youth services).

What is a typical process for a volunteer team?

1.  Project Kickoff — After volunteers are recruited and interviewed to ensure the right fit for a project, Community Partners will schedule a kick-off meeting with the team and the nonprofit organization.  The kick-off meeting typically runs 2-3 hours at the client’s location – these meetings can be scheduled during the day or after hours in the evening.  We make every attempt to suit everyone’s scheduling requests.  The kick-off meeting is usually a high-energy and exciting meeting where the client presents their organization and challenges to the volunteer consulting team.  The volunteers have an opportunity to ask questions and gather information to better understand the organization and project. 

2.  Project Scoping — After the Kick-off meeting, the volunteers will select a Project Leader to take primary responsibility for managing the schedule for the project and the interactions with the client. Volunteers will also define the scope of the project and develop a project plan, which will be included in an Engagement Letter. 

3.  Regular Check-ins — Volunteer consulting teams should meet at regular intervals, typically once a week or once every two weeks, usually via conference call.  These conference calls are opportunities to share information amongst the team members and talk about next steps in the project process. 

4.  Individual Work — Consultants will also engage in individual activities as agreed upon by the team that may include interviewing the client’s board members, reviewing financials, competitive analysis, and customer interviews.

5.  Team Meetings — There are usually 2-3 additional team meetings (after the Kick-off meeting) with the client (in-person or as a conference call). 

6.  Final Presentation — Teams are expected to make an in-person final presentation to the client, which may also include board members.

What are some types of projects?

Nonprofit organizations usually seek assistance from HBS Community Partners for business assistance.  We work with each organization to develop a project scope that our team will be capable of delivering within a timeframe that works for the team and the client.  The types of projects that HBS Community Partners has performed in the past include: 

  • Strategic Planning Process
  • Market Assessment
  • Operational Review
  • Business Plan
  • Board Governance
  • Financial Sustainability & Development
  • Marketing/Communications/Branding Strategy
  • Growth Plan
  • Organizational Review
  • Revenue/Earned Income Plan

How do I know if I have the right skills and background to work on a project? 

Many nonprofits have few staff members with professional business training.  Thus they look to HBS Community Partners to bring business experience and basic business skills to help them tackle challenges within their organization.  Sometimes having someone from the outside viewing their organization as they would a for-profit organization can provide valuable insights to the nonprofit.  Most HBS alumni have the appropriate skills to contribute to a consulting team.  Additionally, the volunteer recruiting process involves a conversation between the volunteer and the Community Partners Executive Director to ensure there is a good fit between the volunteer and the client needs. 

Who manages a consulting team?

Client Partner — Each volunteer consulting team will have a member from the Community Partners Steering Committee serve as a Client Partner to the team.  This person will support the team and also serve as a liaison to the client.

Project Leader — Each team will also have a Project Leader – a volunteer on the team who agrees to serve in this role.  This person is not expected to do the majority of the work but will help coordinate the process by keeping in contact with the team members, the client and the Client Partner. 

What kind of support do volunteers get from Community Partners?

A Steering Committee member will serve as a liaison to the team and the client – this person is called the Client Partner.  The Client Partner is an experienced volunteer who has provided oversight on many project teams.  The Client Partner will help the team with the scope development and creating the Engagement letter. 

The Client Partner will also check in with the Project Leader regularly to ensure that the team is on schedule and has the appropriate involvement and support from the Client.  The client partner can also provide some best practices from previous projects to assist the team.

What if I can’t continue to work on a project?

Situations at work and home often change our priorities and there are times when team members are no longer able to participate in a project.  While we understand that this is a volunteer effort, it is important to try to assess up front your ability to participate on a project for its duration.  At the same time, should extenuating circumstances make it impossible to continue active participation at certain times, we ask that volunteers communicate pro-actively to the members and leadership of the team as soon as possible so that we can address any issues and re-assign responsibilities. 

Why do people volunteer?

Past volunteers have expressed very positive experiences from participating in an HBS Community Partners project for many reasons.  First of all it is a great networking opportunity.  Project teams consist of alumni from different backgrounds and MBA classes so you will most likely meet new alumni on your team.  Second, volunteering on a consulting team is a unique way to get involved in your community.  Volunteers can truly add value to the organizations they assist and it is opportunity to help an organization beyond donating money.  Third, volunteers have expressed the enjoyment they get from getting to know the people at these nonprofit organizations and seeing the passion that drives them to work for their cause.

How do I volunteer?

To volunteer for a project, please use this form to contact us:

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