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

Social Sector Solutions: Andrik Cardenas at

Student discussion a project plan.

Student discussing a project plan.


Setting the Stage for Impact through Berkeley Board Fellows

Berkeley Board Fellows Nonprofit Partners, 2015

Berkeley Board Fellows kicked off the 2015 program by convening students, nonprofit partners, coaches, and faculty at Berkeley’s International House. In its 12th year, the program continues to provide resources, education, training, and support for Cal graduate students looking to include board service in their lives. Current nonprofit board members are also supported through training and other resources.

The participating nonprofits cover a wide array of services and sectors. Here are some statistics on this year’s selected organizations:

  • 30 Nonprofit organizations from 10 bay area cities
  • Combined $118.5 million annual budget
  • 1650 employees (in 3 different countries)
  • 30% of the organizations participated last year
  • Buchanan YMCA is the oldest nonprofit, established in 1855
  • Bay Leaf Kitchen is the youngest nonprofit, established in 2014

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Give today to amplify Haas impact in our communities

Talented, passionate leaders choose the Haas School of Business to get their MBAs and to learn to use their skills to solve our toughest social problems.

The Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership (CNPL) at Berkeley-Haas prepares students to have social impact across sectors and throughout their lives. Each year, hundreds of Haas MBAs participate on community boards, consult to nonprofit organizations, and get the training they need to solve the kinds of vexing challenges we’ve yet to conquer. Expert faculty – like Paul Jansen, who founded McKinsey & Company’s social sector consulting practice – are in the classroom and in the field to prepare Haas leaders to change the world.

Destiny Arts CenterDestiny Arts Center, in Oakland, has benefited from the work of Berkeley-Haas students through eight years in the Berkeley Board Fellows program. Destiny Arts Center uses dance, theater and martial arts to help youth counter very tough realities – like rape and gang violence. The enclosed picture shows the vitality and optimism that Destiny Arts fosters through their work.

You can ensure our ability to serve organizations like Destiny Arts by making a gift to support CNPL and Berkeley-Haas today. CNPL is 100% self supported – through earned revenue and gifts like yours.

  • A gift of $250 will support one nonprofit in the Berkeley Board Fellows program.
  • A gift of $500 will help us train a student to serve as a Berkeley Board Fellow.
  • A gift of $1,000 will help us assess the impact of a Berkeley Board Fellows project.

Secure Online Giving Site

Imagine the breakthroughs our community can achieve if we leverage the power of a Berkeley-Haas education. Your gift today can make this change happen.



BBF Kick-Off: David Riemer’s advice to mentors

The Berkeley Board Fellows welcomed 82 Fellows and 40 nonprofit organizations at the Kick-Off event on October 6. Professor Paul Jansen spoke to the Fellows while Executive-in-Residence at Haas David Riemer spoke to the mentors about how to make their participation in the Berkeley Board Fellows program a successful experience for both the board and the Fellows.

  1. Be a “booster” for the Fellows: Let everybody know what the Fellows’ strengths are and that the Fellows are there to make a contribution and to provide a different point of view.
  2. Immediately assign and integrate the Fellows into a committee: It’s a great way for the Fellows to get activated and really involved.
  3. Come up with a clear problem definition for the project: With a vague problem definition, it will be hard for the Fellows to do a good job of focusing, working with the staff, and knowing what to work on. With a crisp problem definition, the Fellows can come up with an affective solution that aligns with that problem definition.
  4. Encourage the Fellows to spend time with staff: In addition to meeting with the staff, Fellows should work on their projects with the staff. Make sure it’s easy for the Fellows to get access to the staff and to collaborate with them. Encourage the Fellows to use what they’re learning in school, especially from the “Problem Finding Problem Solving” class.
  5. Acknowledge the demands of being a student, but also remind the Fellows that they are representing the school, the program, and future Fellows.

Berkeley Board Fellows holds Kick-Off Event

Event: Berkeley Board Fellows Kick-Off
Date: Monday, October 6
Location: International House

The Berkeley Board Fellows commenced its 2014-2015 program year with the annual Kick-Off event, which welcomed the 82 Fellows and 40 nonprofit organizations. Introducing the Berkeley Board Fellows to the attendees were guest speakers Dean Richard Lyons, David Riemer, and Paul Jansen. Paul spoke about the qualities of a highly effective (“Dynamic”) board of directors.

His talk included the 10 Things to Know about Your Nonprofit to ensure they are informed, engaged board members:

  1. Core activities – who, what, where, for how long?: What does the nonprofit do? Who does it try to help? What help does it try to deliver where and for how long?
  2. Mission, theory of change: What change is the nonprofit ultimately trying to achieve and what’s the strategy or set of activities it’s going to do to achieve that desired social outcome?
  3. Organization chart/profile of key leaders
  4. Revenue mix/trends: The phrase “No margin, no mission” has real meaning. Where does the nonprofit get its money – earned income, donated income, or income from government sources or contracts? Depending on the mix of revenues and sources, you can have a very different kind of nonprofit.
  5. Key cost components
  6. Board composition/committees: Who is on the board, and what are the committees of the board?
  7. Key peers/competitors: Who are the peer organizations who are the nonprofit’s competitors or collaborators?
  8. Other stakeholders, including regulators, government, funders: Who are the major donors, who else believe that they have a real interest, and who are the beneficiaries in the work of that nonprofit?
  9. Recent events/public profile: It’s worthwhile to do a Google search on nonprofit and find out what’s been written about it lately. It goes a long way towards understanding what the vibe might be in the board room.
  10. Results against mission

3 Steps for More Impact Investment-Ready Organizations

By Katherine Murtha

As impact investing comes into the mainstream, there are not enough investment-ready enterprises able to absorb the amount of capital that impact investing is poised to generate.” Dr. Judith Rodin, remarks at Aspen Ideas Festival, June 2014

“All levels of government are facing steeper costs on health care and pensions, where the relentless demographics are just grinding down on all other items in the budget.” – A former state government CFO quoted in Bridgespan’s report, January 2012

A dearth of impact investment-ready deals. Diminishing government funds for social sector organizations. These are big challenges. This week, Nonprofit Finance Fund’s CEO Antony Bugg-Levine and VP Bill Pinakiewicz shared solutions that might address both. They suggested three ways for funders to help social enterprises remain viable and create value for investors.

  1. Help social impact organizations understand the new paradigm. The possibility is very real that traditional public funding for nonprofits will not bounce back.
  2. Help social enterprises and nonprofits adapt to this new funding landscape. Enable them to focus on the measurable outputs that impact investors like to see and adjust their business models to take advantage of government incentives for achieving metrics.
  3. Strengthen social impact organizations. Invest in their adaptive capacity or organizational effectiveness – give organizations tools to understand their finances, improve their capital structure, and measure outputs.

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New Executive Director sought by the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership

Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership logoThe Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership seeks a new Executive Director to lead the strategy, programs, and fundraising of the Center. Hiring a new ED is part of a strategy to promote thought leadership for social impact and provide current leaders with the tools to succeed in their endeavors.

nora_silverAs part of this move, Nora Silver, our founder and current Director and Adjunct Professor at Berkeley-Haas, has been named the Center’s Faculty Director. In this role, she will guide our research, publications and course offerings.  Nora led the Center to become Haas’ highest ranked specialty and #4 in the nation in nonprofit programs in business school (US News & World Report 2014).

The Executive Director will lead the Center’s staff to deliver high-quality programs and initiatives. The ideal candidate has experience running a purpose-driven organization and is recognized as a leader in the field. He or she has demonstrated success in fundraising, building partnerships with social organizations and achieving impact at scale. Interested candidates must apply through the UC Berkeley Jobs website at (search Job ID 17665). A more detailed job announcement is below.  Please share this exciting news with your networks and colleagues.

This expansion of our staff capacity ensures that we will continue our quality programing while providing valuable new resources for social sector leaders. We look forward to a successful Executive Director search and transition for the Center.


Doug Rauch, Speaks About the Process of Building his Nonprofit, The Daily Table

Event: Impact Speaker Series: Doug Rauch, founder of The Daily Table and former president of Trader Joe’s, co-hosted by The Center for Responsible Business
Date: Thursday, February 20th, 2014
Location: Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley

Between 30-40% of food produced in the US is wasted.  Meanwhile, 49 million Americans struggle regularly with hunger.  The Daily Table, a new nonprofit opening in Massachusetts this spring, aims to turn these two wrongs into a right. It will sell fresh-cooked, healthy meals at competitive fast food prices, in a neighborhood where such options are scarce.  It will use produce donated by grocery stores due to cosmetic defects or slightly passed expiry dates—produce that is still nutritious and edible but is currently being sent to the landfill by the ton.

Doug RauchDoug Rauch, founder of The Daily Table and former president of Trader Joe’s, shared his experiences and advice from the early days of starting a mission-driven business.

After “graduating” from Trader Joe’s 5 years ago, Doug searched for a way to use his knowledge from his career and apply it to something he was passionate about. He became apart of a Harvard Fellowship that asked successful professionals who were nearing the end of their careers, to tackle a significant social ill at scale. After reflecting on which social issue bothered him the most, it finally dawned on him: “how is it possible that 1 out of 6 Americans is hungry” in one of the richest countries that spends billions of dollars on agriculture and food production?

Doug laid out 6 steps to starting a mission-driven business, based on his own journey of starting The Daily Table.

  1. If you’re going to try to tackle a problem, know the problem,” Doug advised. He realized the problem for hunger in America cannot be solved by filling stomachs because they are already filled – but with cheap junk calories. The real problem is bringing affordable nutrition to 50 million Americans.
  2. Once the problem is understood, you must question why the problem is not being addressed. Doug discovered that there are plenty of food banks, but many people who qualify for food stamps are embarrassed to use these services because it’s a question of dignity.
  3. “You are either innovating or you’re going to die.” It is easy for any organization to become complacent as time goes on; however, in order to be successful, one must keep innovating to stay ahead of the game.
  4. Get your story right. Narratives are crucial because they matter to the people the organization is trying to reach. With the story, it’s  necessary to address why people should care and what makes the issue urgent.
  5. Reel in your initial funders (this is mostly applicable to nonprofits):  Fundraising is an extremely competitive marketplace in the nonprofit world because the funders get to decide whether the organization has a right to exist.  If you’re going to stick to a nonprofit model, “you have to break the nonprofit silos and rise above the competition” to form [strategic] partnerships.”
  6. Have a business plan and execute it well by engaging the right people.

In addition to Doug Rauch, both of the founders of Feeding Forward, a UC Berkeley-born organization formed to help solve the issue of local hunger, were also present at the event to share how they are approaching the same social issue. The organization uses technology to connect those with excess food to those who need it through the use of a mobile application, thus “streamlining the process of food recovery and donation”. Thus far, the venture has successfully recovered 420,000 pounds of excess edible food donations, which has generated enough meals to feed over 355,000 individuals.

Doug Rauch speaks to the idea of sustainability in the nonprofit world due to the extreme competitiveness in the nonprofit market:

Doug Rauch advises students to “Dare Greatly.”

Below are some photos from the event:

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*This was a zero-waste event.

Two Berkeley-Haas Programs That Directly Benefit Community Organizations

Berkeley Board Fellows

Bay Area nonprofits are encouraged to apply for Berkeley Board Fellows. Leverage the skills of these highly trained and professional students on a strategic project for your organization.  Board Fellows are UC Berkeley graduate students from business, law, public policy, and public health who participate in board meetings and contribute to nonprofit boards from October to May.  Submit your application by August 16th.

In 2012, a record 93 fellows served on 50 Bay Area nonprofit boards.  Apply Today! 

Here’s what Terry Kramer, US Ambassador and member of Larkin Street Youth Services’ board of directors says about engaging board fellows:

Social Sector Solutions

Work with Haas MBA students and consultants from McKinsey & Company on a 15-week strategy consultation to help your nonprofit achieve greater impact.  You will benefit from the latest academic and consulting thinking in strategy, marketing, finance and more.   The program begins January 2014 and continues through May.  Applications are due August 31, 2013!  Apply today or send questions to

“I was an Ernst & Young consultant. I would put [the students’] work up against the deliverables of the professional consultants any day. This is really good.” – Steve Janowsky, Wetherby Asset Management

Berkeley Board Fellows Working with Oakland’s Destiny Arts Center

Berkeley Board Fellows MBA students Bri Treece and Stephanie Curran are currently on the board of directors for Destiny Arts Center based in Oakland. They are  working on taking the organization’s professional development program to market. The two spent an afternoon collecting customer insights after having  individually conducted interviews with several Bay Area organizations who have had success implementing professional development programs.

“I love working with Destiny Arts—they have such a powerful mission, and you can feel the passion and energy around that mission when you walk in the door. They have an exciting year ahead with the purchase of a new building and their 25th anniversary celebration. They’ve welcomed Stephanie and me into the celebration with open arms; it really feels like we’re part of the Destiny family!”

– Bri Treece

Here are a couple of snapshots of the two working with the Destiny board.