LC Newsletter- Meeting the Demand

both seasoned executives with for-profit and nonprofit experience leading organizations during crisis periods, we aired the webinar Emerging from the Crisis—Planning for Next Year as a Nonprofit on April 23rd.   In this webinar, Scott and Seth shared their perspectives on how nonprofits can play both defense and offense, as well as raise funds during uncertain times.  This webinar was well-received by the HBS alumni and nonprofit community, with almost 500 registrants.

Over the summer we stretched our capacity to serve 16 nonprofits (a record number) with virtual 90-min brainstormings.  Initially unsure of alumni capacity to volunteer during these dynamic times, we were delighted to see a record number of volunteers—over 80—offer up their time to participate in these summer sessions to help nonprofits ideate how they can address a current dilemma.

Based on the summer demand, we were not surprised to see a record number of nonprofits apply for a fall consulting project.  The HBS Community Partners Steering Committee is currently in the midst of scoping and vetting 23 potential clients, and are again examining how we might be able to expand capacity to serve as many organizations in need as possible.   We will begin recruiting for volunteers early September.


Planning for Impact

As part of preparing for the fall consulting season and the changing needs/capacities of our nonprofits and volunteers, we are piloting one-month consulting engagements called Sprint Projects.   Some organizations need quick support that go beyond what a brainstorming can provide, but does not require a three-to-four month engagement.  In addition, volunteers may be less able to commit to a three-to-four month project during these fluid times.  Thus, we are offering this service alongside our traditional Deep Dive consulting projects.  We will be closely evaluating our pilot Sprint projects this fall to see if they could be useful as a new product line going into the future.

In addition, to build capacity by spreading the word among alumni on the benefits of volunteering through Community Partners, we launched our first ever Ambassador Program.  We have 14 alumni, mostly recent graduates, who are willing to share with their networks at their employers and graduating classes future project opportunities.  We hope this expanded marketing effort will yield more volunteers than ever before.

At the same time, we have a sub-committee exploring how we can best measure the longer-term impact of our consulting with nonprofits, and how to best share this with alumni.  While we routinely survey our nonprofits and alumni right after a consulting engagement, we do not routinely check-in one year later on the impact of the recommendations.  More details on the results of this team’s work will come by the end of the year.

The recent unveiling of the depth of racial injustice in our society, shockingly exacerbated by the pandemic, underscored the need for us to take action.  During the summer, we identified and reached out to local nonprofits addressing racial injustice to offer our pro bono consulting and brainstorming support.  We examined our own leadership, policies and processes to explore whether there is unconscious bias in our very infrastructure.  And we are committed to offering in our upcoming nonprofit board summit a dedicated panel on building diversity on boards.  There is still more work to do for sure.  We will be working side-by-side with nonprofits who are also looking to re-examine their diversity, equity and inclusion practices, and we hope to build real-time and then share out some new best practices in this space.