Tackling Stigma and Brainstorming on Strategy for Nonprofit Aiming to Prevent Deadly Virus

By Katherine Murtha

On November 3, six alums of the UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business proved they are students always. Gathering on campus, the group of alumni volunteered to help a startup online health education nonprofit at a Solutions Lab organized by the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership.

The nonprofit client, HPVANDME.ORG, creates easy-to-understand videos educating people about human papillomavirus (HPV). Its mission is to become the premier hub of information on the treatment and prevention of HPV and HPV-related head and neck cancers. HPV is a prevalent disease: each year, more than 14 million people are infected, and 26,000 are affected by the cancers it causes – cancers that are preventable. HPV has a vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control recommend all people ages 11-21 (up to 26 for women) receive the vaccine, which targets three of the most common strains of the virus. But as HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, efforts to educate the public about it must overcome a social stigma that stifles conversations about sex.

Volunteer alums Alice and Dave brainstorm ideas on sticky notes for HPVANDME, a client of the Solutions Lab.

Volunteer alums Alice and Dave brainstorm ideas on sticky notes for HPVANDME, a client of the Solutions Lab.

The approachable style and high production value of HPVANDME’s content have drawn the attention of the Centers for Disease Control, the Farrah Fawcett Foundation, the Mayo Clinic, and other potential partners. During the Solutions Lab, the alumni volunteers brainstormed ways for HPVANDME to partner with these organizations to help it achieve its goal. Alums drew on a diversity of experiences in online content creation, technology startups, and health care. The opportunity to give back through business skills piqued the interest of one volunteer, who said activities like Solutions Lab keep his “brain from turning to mush.”

“This is our ‘continuing education,’” another Haas volunteer said of Solutions Lab, “and it feels good.”

That continuing education included a quick overview of a Problem Framing Problem Solving brainstorm technique, diverging and converging. After ideating individually on sticky notes, volunteers paired up to cluster their ideas by category and refined a pitch. They presented their top ideas to the client and, via video conference, to representatives of two prospective partner organizations for HPVANDME. In the process, alums learned about the disease and the discourse within the medical community on prevention and treatment for HPV-positive cancers.

In addition to approaches to partnership, the ideas for HPVANDME also included business practices that the startup nonprofit could implement to help it grow.

The Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership has hosted four sessions of Solutions Lab, a unique opportunity for Haas alumni to lend their business acumen to assist nonprofit clients. You can read more about past sessions here.


In the Bay Area, Entities in Each Sector Are Incubating Positive Social Change

By Katherine Murtha

There is no one sector that is incubating social change today.

That’s because entities in each sector have the potential to make an impact. Even more impactful are projects created by the collaboration of two or more sectors. Leaders who want to make a difference must develop skills to work across sectors, be willing to blur sector divisions, and recognize solutions regardless of the sector that originated them.

In December, the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership’s executive director Nora Silver wrote about two leaders who addressed humanitarian crises abroad by working across sectors, connecting nonprofit, business, and government resources to areas in need. She described how after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Patrick Meier shared nonprofits’ crowd-sourced data with radio stations to direct aid to earthquake victims. Since each sector can create unique solutions, she suggested it is important for leaders not to discount other sectors, but rather to develop facility with working across sectors to maximize impact.

In our lectures and research, the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership emphasizes the need to develop these cross-sector skills. These skills are embedded in classes like Social Sector Solutions, where students do consulting projects for nonprofit and social enterprise clients.

Here in the Bay area, there are plenty of examples of innovators working in all sectors to promote community development and enable local communities to thrive.

In a government-nonprofit partnership, the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office and Animal Control run an Animal Bonding program where inmates develop empathy and “learn how to accept responsibility for the care of others” while caring for dogs, cats, and birds. Rountree Minimum Facility reports that the program benefits inmates by providing them with the “therapeutic…intimacy bond produced from connecting with the animal(s). The bond helps reduce antisocial behavior by increasing the inmates’ capacity for empathy.” Society as a whole functions better when inmates develop socio-emotional skills before returning to their communities.

Innovators spanning all sectors were surfaced by a competition – Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change, held by Ashoka Changemakers and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. With the intention of identifying outside-the-box ideas, the competition Continue reading

“Gamify” and “Ask Me Anything”: In Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership’s Solutions Lab, Haas Alumni Suggest Ways to Make MapLight’s Voter Education Tool Shareable

By Katherine Murtha

Were you happy about the turnout of the primary election last week?MapLight---client-intro-(1)-web

Berkeley nonprofit MapLight wants to help voters make educated decisions when they step into the voting booth. To that end, MapLight developed Voters Edge, a free online tool that provides voters with information about candidate and ballot measure funding and details on all the issues. But so far, MapLight’s Executive Director, Dan Newman, has been disappointed with the electorate’s lackluster response.

With a goal of getting two million Voters Edge users by January 2015, MapLight partnered with the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business to run a brainstorm session where Haas alums lent their creativity to brainstorm marketing ideas.

The group of seven alumni included MBAs who graduated in 1982, 2007, and 2014, as well as a Marketing PhD and alums from the undergraduate program.

Before they arrived, the Haas volunteers clicked through the Voters Edge tool and prepared questions for Dan and the MapLight team. After a warmup and brief overview, the volunteers got to work dreaming up ideas to make Voters Edge more shareable on social media.

For about 25 minutes, the Haas alums refined their top ideas. Then they made their pitches to nine members of MapLight’s staff, who stayed late so they could hear the ideas and give feedback.

Some of the ideas aired were for MapLight to “gamify” Voters Edge to incentivize users to share the tool online. MapLight’s team was interested in suggestions like hosting a bipartisan Reddit Ask Me Anything (or “AMA”) forum to raise awareness of the tool and the influence of money in politics.

The two hours flew by. Both clients and volunteers expressed interest in participating in another Solutions Lab, with a little more time for back and forth.

The MapLight Solutions Lab was the third of a three-session pilot run by the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership for Haas alumni. The next batch of client sessions will be held in the fall. Click here to learn more.

At Foundation for Sustainable Development, UC Berkeley-Haas Alumni Brainstorm Messaging through Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership’s Solutions Lab

By Katherine Murtha

Mireille Cronin-Mather had a question.pair-ideation-(2)for-web

The Executive Director of the Foundation for Sustainable Development – a 20-year-old nonprofit with 30 corporate partners and 10 sites worldwide – wondered how her organization could tell its story.

FSD sends teams of volunteers to sites around the world, where over short periods they train community members to run successful and financially sustainable organizations. Five years after these volunteer teams have come and gone, 79% of programs are still running. FSD credits this success to strong leaders within the communities.

Highlighting its asset-based, community-driven approach jars with the more commonly told narrative of international development organizations that solve problems for people in need. And that message had not been tested with a new potential donor pool: impact investors.

So on Thursday night, nine passionate alumni of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business got to work in FSD’s San Francisco office. The two-hour brainstorm and pitch session surfaced ideas for how FSD should make its case to donors from the social impact investing field. Continue reading

Berkeley-Haas Alumni Brainstorm for Great Oakland Public Schools

Jonathan Klein, MBA 06, GO Founder

Jonathan Klein, MBA 06, GO Founder

Contributed by Katherine Murtha

How do Berkeley-Haas alumni reconnect, sharpen their strategy skills and support local nonprofits simultaneously? Seven alumni volunteers gathered this week to do just that at the Great Oakland Public School’s (“GO”) office at Jack London Square. The group’s task was to brainstorm replication strategies for the growing nonprofit.

Berkeley-Haas alum Jonathan Klein (MBA 06) founded Great Oakland Public Schools in 2008. It aims to activate communities to secure quality education for all of Oakland’s children.

[See Jonathan’s path to social impact in his November, 2013 presentation at Berkeley-Haas. Video below.]

Jonathan says GO’s impact has spurred people from around the country to call him “at least once a week,” asking for GO to help organize engaged parents and teachers in their school districts. With the board’s approval, GO is doing just that – and that’s where the alumni volunteers come in. Continue reading