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. For the 10th year, Link Day provided critical support driving local nonprofits towards mission effectiveness and cast a powerful vision to future leaders about the need and effectiveness of public/private partnerships.
Nine first-year MBA students organized this annual event in conjunction with BU’s Public and Nonprofit Management Club. This year, 15 nonprofits participated, leveraging services that might have ordinarily cost many thousands of dollars. The size, scope, and mission of the organizations varied greatly, ranging from local chapters of national organizations such as Habitat for Humanity to exclusively local organizations such as The Food Project.
Before the event, each team visits its partner organization and works with the staff to identify and develop a project of appropriate scope. Before the day of the event, each team designs 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. At the end of the event, 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 student teams are 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. This voluntary event is seen as a way for students to use their newly honed business skills to overcome the increasingly complex business problems of nonprofits.
The outcomes of Link Day have been significant, impacting both the nonprofit and student community. The three-month evaluations will be mailed soon; however, early qualitative feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. 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.” In 2010, 15 nonprofits participated in Link Day allowing for almost $50,000 in consulting services being implemented:
- 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