Link Day 2010: 60 MBA Students Provide 15 Nonprofits with Nearly $50,000 in Free Consulting

in Graduate Students, Social Impact, Students
July 15th, 2010

Providing critical support to local nonprofits for the 10th year in a row

The Mission:

  • Provide resource strapped nonprofits with the human and intellectual capital necessary to overcome organizational hurdles that have hindered each nonprofit’s essential mission from making maximum impact;
  • Provide an opportunity for future business leaders to be exposed to the work and mission of the nonprofit community;
  • Create an enduring spirit of partnership.

The Players:

“Student teams and advisors were excellent…They challenged us with good, tough questions, helped us think as a group and out of our comfort zone.” 

–Link Day 2010 Nonprofit Participant

On February 20, 2010, 60 Boston University MBA students gathered for a one-day consulting event that partnered local nonprofits with MBA student teams to collectively overcome significant organizational challenges.

Nine first-year MBA students organized this annual event in conjunction with BU’s Public and Nonprofit Management Club.  The student teams participating were a conglomeration of first and second years, as well as full and part-time students with varied backgrounds in finance, marketing, strategy, technology, and public and nonprofit management.

In 2010, fifteen nonprofits participated in Link Day, yielding almost $50,000 in consulting services.  The size, scope, and mission of the organizations varied greatly, ranging from local chapters of national organizations to exclusively local nonprofits. The full roster of organizations that participated and benefited from this year’s Link Day were:

  • America SCORES
  • Boston Alliance for Early Education
  • Child Care Resource Center
  • Concord Children’s Center
  • Educational Development Group
  • Elizabeth Peabody House
  • Girl Scouts of Eastern Mass.
  • Greater Boston Center for Healthy Communities
  • Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell
  • Home for Families
  • LGBT Aging Project
  • Marblehead Arts Association
  • Mustard Seed Communities
  • The Food Project
  • Year Up

The Process:

Before the event, each team visits its partner organization and works with the staff to identify and develop a project of appropriate scope.  Then the teams design a viable, customized solution for the identified issue. On the day of the event, they work with the nonprofit representatives to create a strategy for its implementation.  Capping off the day, each team presents its recommendations to the assembled participants and guests (students, alumni, and local business leaders).

Following the event, members of the planning committee follow up with the participating organizations to see how implementation of the business solutions are progressing, and to solicit feedback on the effectiveness of the program.

The Outcomes:

Link Day has a lasting and significant impact on both the nonprofit and student community. One nonprofit representative said, “Student team and advisor were excellent, patient, really listened to us and helped us unscramble our thoughts. They challenged us with good, tough questions, helped us think as a group and out of our comfort zone.”

Another nonprofit representative raved, “Link Day 2010 exceeded my expectations. The students are obviously intelligent and committed to improving our organization by participating. The group work sessions were very much a collaboration.”

“Link Day provides critical support for local nonprofits’ mission effectiveness; It casts a powerful vision to future leaders about the effectiveness of public/private partnerships.” 

–Molly Brown, Link Day 2010 Student Organizer, MBA Class of 2011

For many students, Link Day is their first encounter with the nonprofit community, helping them realize both the need that exists and the impact they can make through volunteering. One hundred percent of students who participated in Link Day reported that it was a valuable experience for them.  One student attendee said, “It was great getting to work with an enthusiastic organization and a diverse group of students. It was also great to get real-world consulting experience.”

Another student shared, “It was very gratifying to see the enthusiastic responses our nonprofit had to our suggestions and to see a cohesive plan take shape.”  When asked what he liked best about Link Day 2010, another student said, “The opportunity to spend all day focusing on a problem and provide a nonprofit with a different perspective, linking nonprofit with profit-thinking.”

Link Day, an important annual event at the School of Management, is the result of public and private partnerships, with underwriting for the 2010 activities provided by Citizens Bank, Liberty Mutual, State Street Corporation, The Perkins Foundation, and Boston University’s MBA Council.  This support combined with facility and faculty support from Boston University led to 960 volunteer hours.

Watch a Link  Day 2010 team in action

Related news: Link Day Helps the School of Management Win TeamMBA Award for 2nd Year in a Row