Nonprofits Utilize Student Programs for Mission-Critical Projects

S3-proj-teamSavvy nonprofits tap into all the resources available to them. Those resources include the skills, passion, and energy of Berkeley-Haas MBA and other grad students. Nonprofit organizations can benefit from two major community-based programs; Berkeley Board Fellows (BBF) and Social Sector Solutions (S3), both of which are accepting applications.

The Berkeley Board Fellows program is, at it’s core, about board excellence. Selected nonprofits simultaneously meet a critical board need, and provide a learning environment for future board leaders. Two grad students join the board as non-voting members. They complete a project through a board committee and receive insight into board service from a mentor. The Social Sector Solutions program provides accessible management consulting to tackle complex, strategic questions for nonprofits. Consulting teams are guided by experienced faculty and aided by McKinsey & Company coaches.

  BBF   S3
  • 2 fellows serve jointly   • 5 person consulting team
  • Oct – May (8 hrs/month)   • January – May (15 weeks)
  • Located in the Bay Area   • Any location (incl. int’l)
  • Provides board member training   • Provides team coach
  • 30 nonprofits   • 10 nonprofits
  • Free   • Fee-based
Board members at financial management training.

BBF nonprofit partners at financial management training.

How Students Help the Nonprofits

In Berkeley Board Fellows, the two fellows serving on the board will lead a project as part of the board committee they attend. BBF projects fall into 1 of 4 categories: 

  1. Performance measurement/assessment
  2. Business strategy/planning
  3. Financial management
  4. Marketing

Some sample projects from past Fellowships include:

  • Research and analyze three earned income ideas to support core mission.
  • Determine appropriate pricing for 2 afterschool programs.
  • Develop social media strategy recommendations to increase effectiveness of the organization’s profile.
  • Develop a board member dashboard to compile and display data to track progress on a new strategic plan.

Social Sector Solutions projects can be in any area, but must be of key, strategic concern for the organization and “big enough” to fully engage a team of 5 for 15 weeks.

Some examples of previous Social Sector Solutions projects include:

  • Develop a national program expansion strategy.
  • 10-year program impact evaluation.
  • Brand evaluation and improvement recommendations.
  • Create a sustainable financial model for a program or organization.
Students brainstorming an S3 project.

Students brainstorming an S3 project.

Which program is right for you?

Having a hard time deciding which great program can best propel your nonprofit toward mission success? The key may lay in the type of project you have in mind. Try asking this question: If we are not accepted into one of these programs, who would be tasked with executing the project?

If the answer is “another board member“, Berkeley Board Fellows may be right for you.

If the answer is “an external consultant/firm“, Social Sector Solutions is probably a fit.

 

Raise Your Hand to Show Your Interest!

The success stories from both programs abound. You can read some of them on this blog by clicking on the Berkeley Board Fellows or Social Sector Solutions content tag.

Full Program details and applications can be found at the Berkeley Board Fellows or Social Sector Solutions program pages. Questions related to these programs can be directed to:

Berkeley Board Fellows: Cathy Garza at cathy_garza@haas.berkeley.edu

Social Sector Solutions: Andrik Cardenas at andrik@haas.berkeley.edu

Student discussion a project plan.

Student discussing a project plan.

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Do Good, Together, with Value – Lessons from High School Entrepreneurs

YEAH-groupThe Young Entrepreneurs At Haas (YEAH) program recently concluded its 27th year of service to Bay Area high school students. A key component of the program is business plan presentations done by high school sophomores. The students are given free rein to devise any business they think is needed and could be successful. With ideas in hand, they work with an undergraduate business or MBA student coach to flesh out the business value, structure, financials, supply chain, and marketing. With a clean slate on which to innovate, the talented groups came up with novel product and service ideas. Three themes emerged from this year’s presentations:

  1. Social Entrepreneurship
  2. Collaboration
  3. Consolidation

These themes underscore the evolution of business and the mindset needed from a new generation of business leaders. The teams presented to a panel of judges and deftly defended their ideas during the Q&A sessions.

Berkeley-Haas YEAH presentation

An enthusiastic crowd supports the student presenters.

Social Entrepreneurship
One half of the companies provided a social good of some kind. The teams did not refer to themselves as social entrepreneurs, but the mission focus of their idea and business structure was clear. The presentations made it clear that students did not consider this novel or attention-getting. There is an implicit expectation that successful companies will contribute to the well-being of the community either directly through an offering or through its operations. Many startups consider social impact to be a point of differentiation or even a competitive advantage. These budding leaders signal a soon-to-be future where that it not the case.

Berkeley-Haas YEAH presentations

A student team fields questions from judges.

Collaboration
The business mantra of “leading” and “following” is dissolving. The next generation of leaders doesn’t see a push-pull, us-vs-them environment. Where a traditional business plan would identify competitors, young leaders see only potential partners. With one presentation after another, teams commented that their ideas offered something new, and that incumbents were better off collaborating to stay relevant in the marketplace instead of wasting the time and energy to compete head to head against novel startups. Collaborative networks working to create shared value are not new to the social impact space. Young entrepreneurs see collaboration as a key business tactic for success across sectors.

Consolidation
In terms of the actual ideas, many of them showed a frustration with a fragmented landscape of niche products and services. There is a value in a consolidated, robust product that provides users with a go-to place for what they need. Students identified a complex world where each product or service provides one small remedy to an ongoing pain-point. There was a tenable desire for consolidation of these services. Several teams hinged on this added value as the core proposition for their idea.

The success of the YEAH program is clear, with a 27-year track record and nearly 100% of program graduates going to college. Visit the YEAH program page at Berkeley-Haas for more information.

 

Which of these themes ring true for you?