One of the areas where COVID-19 disruption has been felt most keenly is in our volunteer program, which we suspended in mid-March until further notice. While a handful of volunteers have returned to help out in the kitchen, most are still on furlough, and we’re all – staff and guests alike – looking forward to their return. These volunteers come from all walks of life, but many are from our corporate and community partners!
Recently, we had the opportunity to work with a group from Leading With Impact. This program is part of Building Impact, a nonprofit that helps forge connections between businesses and nonprofits. Leading With Impact (LWI) partners with MIT’s Executive MBA program. The students – all senior and executive-level professionals – have a capstone pro-bono consulting project through which they work with a nonprofit to address an operational challenge. They spend time with their nonprofit, meeting with a range of stakeholders, and develop 30-, 60-, and 90-day plans for addressing that challenge.
The timing couldn’t have been better, as last fall Shannon had joined SFH as our Corporate and Foundation Relations Officer and had begun working on building more comprehensive partnerships with companies, making sure that organizations that support us are aware of the full range of opportunities to work with SFH: volunteering, event sponsorship, in-kind drives, etc. The LWI team – executives from the technology, finance, nonprofit, venture capital, and education industries – jumped in to help Shannon develop her strategy for reaching out to businesses.
Together, they created a plan focused on streamlining communications with businesses whose first or primary contact was through volunteering, making sure they knew about donation opportunities and more.
Each nonprofit that works with Leading With Impact also gets the opportunity to receive professional development at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Shannon and another development colleague were able to participate in a one-day “MBA crash course,” where they learned about applying business principles to nonprofit operational challenges.
Overall, we’ve gotten a dual benefit from LWI: we have a more strategic approach to working with our business partners, and our employees now feel that they’re better able to lead with impact as well!