Students Provide Consulting Services for Area Nonprofits
April 2, 2014
From left: Annie Luong, Josh Runnels and Michael Ha worked on a nonprofit consulting project to expand fundraising plans for Hope’s Door, a Plano nonprofit that helps victims of family violence.
Nonprofits typically can’t afford to hire consultants.
But dozens of North Texas charities have received expertise from Naveen Jindal School of Management students — at no cost.
One student consulting team developed grass-roots fundraising ideas for Hope’s Door, a Plano agency that helps victims of family violence. Another beefed up social media for the Wilkinson Center, a Dallas charity that offers a food pantry, after-school classes and other programs.
“It was a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with people who are doing work in the community that is important and is making a physical and tangible difference,” said Josh Runnels, who worked on the Hope’s Door consulting project. “We really got to practice some of what we learned.”
Runnels graduated from the Jindal School’s Full-Time MBA Program in December. He now works in the nonprofit sector as director of field relations at Irving-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Students (clockwise from bottom left) Richard Hudson, Branden Southern and Fabe Fan developed a social media plan for a Dallas charity as part of a consulting course that JSOM senior lecturer Robert Wright (front right) helped create.
In all, students completed eight projects during the fall 2013 semester through an initiative to increase students’ community involvement. The Jindal School worked with the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, which asked its partner agencies to submit applications for the students’ assistance.
Half the students worked on projects as part of a new community consulting course taught by Dr. Diane McNulty, associate dean for external affairs and corporate development, and Robert Wright, senior lecturer. The other half were enrolled in the fall section of a social entrepreneurship course that Wright has taught for five years. The pilot program was modeled on projects that students have completed for his class.
The management volunteer consulting program lets students use skills they learn at the Jindal School to make significant contributions to the nonprofit community, McNulty said.
“We are proud of the students’ creative and dedicated work providing North Texas nonprofits with new ideas,” McNulty said. “These projects are making a lasting impression not only on the agencies but on decisions students make in the future.”
Wright said that many students have continued to volunteer for charities after their coursework ended. He added that at least two former students now serve as chairs of the board of directors for the organizations they helped through their consulting projects.
“If we can continue that kind of involvement, it’s a real testimony to the strength of the program,” Wright said.
“We are so thrilled with the support we have gotten from the students at the University, and we are extra happy to see young people who care about nonprofits and children who are not as fortunate as they are.”
David Bornowski, vice president of finance/chief financial officer of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, said his organization plans to act on some of the students’ recommendations this year.
“The students were excited about the opportunity, asked some really good questions, and had a great opportunity to present the findings to our finance committee of volunteers,” Bornowski said.
Susan Etheridge, executive director of CASA of Collin County, said she was impressed with the students who helped her agency with marketing. CASA provides court-appointed volunteer advocates for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect.
“We are so thrilled with the support we have gotten from the students at the University, and we are extra happy to see young people who care about nonprofits and children who are not as fortunate as they are,” Etheridge said.