Client & Project Eligibility Criteria

To best leverage the Community Partners’ volunteer efforts, a non-profit organization needs to reach an appropriate stage of development and size. This page contains information on client and project criteria for an HBS Community Partner’s project.


  • Be a 501(c)3 organization with a mission which benefits the community generally and is not religious or political in nature
  • Be in operations for over a year with a full-time Executive Director and at least 2 other paid staff members
  • Have an annual operating budget of at least $500,000

If you are a 501(c)3 organization interested in obtaining assistance from Community Partners, please select Non-Profit Inquiries button at the bottom of this page to contact us.

Project Criteria

The client’s project scope must also be a fit with the skill sets of HBS alumni. The project criteria are:

  • Address business-related issues within the organization such as administration, strategic planning, organizational development, finance, and marketing
  • Be scaled and focused so as to be completed by a volunteer team of 3-5 consultants working 2-4/hrs per week individually over 3-5 months
  • Designed to create significant strategic impact on the organization
  • Excludes direct fundraising activities. (Volunteers may assist clients with developing fundraising strategies but cannot participate in direct fundraising.)

The types of projects we typically engage in involve:

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

Project Process

1–Inquiry and Application — Clients who are interested in applying for an HBS Community Partners project are encouraged to contact us  before completing a project application.   After an initial phone conversation confirming fit, organizations should submit a project application before the deadlines below:

Season  Application Deadline Project Kickoff Est. Project Completion
Fall July 15th Oct Jan
Spring Nov 15th Feb           Jun

2–Application Approval — After a project application is submitted, the Community Partners’ Steering Committee will review the application and arrange a meeting with the applicant to better assess fit. Projects are approved approximately two weeks after the application deadline.

3–Team Recruitment — After approval, we recruit a team of HBS alumni that best fits the needs of the project.  Most projects consist of 3-5 volunteers varying ages, interests, backgrounds, and skills.   All volunteers have sound business skills and knowledge, but may not always have specific industry or technical expertise in the organization’s field. They are recruited based on their interest in the organization and their capabilities to address the project scope approved. Volunteer consultants are expected to contribute 2-4 hours a week for 4-6 months, resulting in total pro bono consulting time to the client of about 10-12 hours/week or 40-50 hours/month.

4–Project Kickoff and Engagement Letter — Once we have filled the project, a kick-off meeting will be arranged.  This is the client’s opportunity to give an introduction of their organization to the team, and to review the challenges facing the organization.  The project team has an opportunity to ask questions and gather information to better understand the organization and the project.  After the kickoff meeting, the project team will better define the scope of the project and develop a project plan, shared in an Engagement Letter.  A Client Partner will oversee the project, a Project Coordinator on the team will be identified as the point of contact for the team.

5– Active Engagement —The team’s project coordinator is expected to communicate with the client regularly as the project progresses. The client will need to designate a lead person as the primary contact with the project team who can facilitate information gathering and answer any questions that arise during the process.   All team members will be bound to confidentiality through HBS Community Partners.

6–Milestone Presentations — The project team will present an interim status on the project and present the final results of the project to all the key and executive stakeholders, often including Board members.