Field Project Audit – Wings for Kidneys!

Project Description

Our team partnered with the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois (NKFI) to raise awareness for kidney disease and the patients and families affected by the illness. We chose to host our event at a local Buffalo Wild Wings through their Eat Wings, Raise Funds program. By using this program, the restaurant donated 10% of all pre-taxed food sales for diners that turned in a voucher supporting the charity. Our team was present at the restaurant on Friday, August 1st, from 5:30pm to 8:30pm to provide literature on the NKFI.

Since the event depended on bringing people into the restaurant, our team distributed vouchers within the Schaumburg community through two channels: printed flyers (including a QR code to drive viewers to our online site) and online networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as personal email messages to family and friends. We also setup an online donation page via EventBrite to capture funds from people that couldn’t make it out to the restaurant on the day of our event.

Wings for Kidneys team
Our Wings for Kidneys team in front of the Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Wings for Kidneys flyer
Printed flyer we created for the Wings for Kidneys event

Project Objectives and Methodologies

Objective 1: Raise awareness for Kidney Disease.
Objective 2: Provide a financial contribution to the NKFI.
Objective 3: Gain applicable experience in project management techniques.

In our project proposal we brainstormed ways to raise awareness for the NKFI including: (1) passing out literature to interested parties, and (2) promoting the foundation and the event through social media. Looking back on the project, we were able to accomplish the both our  objectives and feel confident that we reached individuals who were not aware of this foundation. In fact, we received a fair amount of questions regarding what the charity does and how they support those with kidney disease.

Our best case scenario for the fundraiser was $975 and worst case was $300. We based these numbers on weekly sales reported by Buffalo Wild Wings and the average amount of foot traffic an urban location gets during the week. After tallying our revenue streams including Buffalo Wild Wings vouchers, donor checks, and Eventbrite donations, we passed our worst case scenario with a final tally of $400.00. However, we do not consider the Eat Wings, Raise Funds event alone to be a success as we had quite a low turnout of diners with vouchers at Buffalo Wild Wings. The Eat Wings, Raise Funds event generated only $60.00 (from $600 worth of dining checks) whereas our online campaign through EventBrite and check donors generated $340.00.

Participating in this field project enabled us to get hands on experience with the project management techniques covered in class. Since none of us had planned a fundraiser before, these techniques became extremely important in breaking down the project into manageable pieces. Some of the techniques we applied were the work breakdown structure (WBS), Gantt chart, and risk management plan. The WBS helped to organize project ideas and assign responsibility to different parties whereas the Gantt chart allowed us to see where multiple deliverables overlapped, including dependencies throughout the project. In addition, the identification of risks helped to mitigate issues that could have caught us off guard if we didn’t plan ahead of time. As mentioned above, we had a low turnout at the event but were able to recover funds by driving more traffic through our online donations.

Advice for Future Teams

  • Charity Selection: Pick a charity that a member of the team has a strong connection with or has dealt with in the past. In addition, it is really important that once you have identified a charity, to ensure there is good support from the charity. The charity that we choose was hesitant to provide support for any 3rd party events, therefore it was difficult to have access to their marketing materials, email distribution, social media channels, or even to receive branded marketing materials to spread the word about the charity.
  • Venue: If you choose to host an event at a restaurant, make sure that they are committed to the cause you are working to support, instead of treating the charity as just another sales channel. Although Buffalo Wild Wings allowed us to host our event on-site and donated a portion of their revenue to the charity, there wasn’t a strong connection with their management team. When we arrived on the day of the event the manager stopped by once and the servers seemed more concern about losing one of their tables (for us to place our NKFI literature) than learning about our fundraiser. Furthermore, Buffalo Wild Wings is very sensitive about soliciting and we were unable to walk around or greet people in support of the charity.
  • Demographics: Understand the demographics that you want to target. We chose the Schaumburg location thinking we would get a lot of attention from the surrounding mall community, but because of the younger demographic there appeared to be a lack of connection to the NKFI mission. Actually a large portion of diners were teenagers and families with young children. Perhaps a charity with an educational focus rather than a health focus would have allowed us to draw in people to our table.

Lessons Learned

What may appear to be a small project can still accumulate a lot of responsibilities, especially with a small team where multiple people have to matrix across responsibilities. Having good teamwork and collaboration can prevent some of these obstacles. Our team was able to balance project management responsibilities by each taking lead in a particular area and serving support on other tasks when needed.

Controlling scope creep is a popular topic in project management, but a lesson we learned is keeping too narrow of a focus can also be a problem. In our team we identified a charity and venue but chose to focus on one restaurant location. Looking back, we feel that we could have targeted multiple locations to make the event more successful. We each live in different parts of the Chicagoland area and could have better leveraged connections within our neighborhood communities.

Finally, the WBS was an excellent resource for adding structure and resource allocation to the planning session. While we stuck to our plan and coordinated tasks well, we could have referred back to the WBS and Gantt chart during implementation to track our progress rather than treating them as archived documents.

Wings for Kidneys collage of photos
A collage of photos from our preparations and participation in the event

12 thoughts on “Field Project Audit – Wings for Kidneys!

  1. I like how you turned a project for school into a charity that helps people in need, great idea. As a group, it seemed like your team had a great idea of what you wanted to accomplish. After looking at your objectives it became clear to me the path you wanted to take in order to make this project a success. In class today, we had a project manager dictate the structure we were going to make out of spaghetti and marshmallows, like you guys, we planned what we wanted to do by creating objectives and drawing a sketch of our tower we wanted to build. This was a great way to clear up confusion and to focus on the goal we were trying to achieve. I thought it was a good idea for you guys to write about what you learned from this experience, taking leads for individual tasks and providing support when needed seemed like it would work well for this kind of project.

  2. It sounded like the event need more advertising to let people know ahead of time that it would be happening. By letting people know ahead of time it could have potentially drawn more people in who were aware of the cause or, at least, have brought in people who wanted to donate. Different channels could have been used to spread the word and alert the community that the event was going to happen. As mentioned, it would ave been more effective if Buffalo Wild Wings would have been more cooperative. Perhaps, hosting the event at a different location that would have been more cooperative could have helped. Even choosing a day on which the restaurant is the busiest so that more money could have been raised. Of course, this all depends on how cooperative the restaurant is to the event. Nevertheless, it is great to hear that you were able to raise funds for the organization.

  3. Overall, your event sounded like it was a great idea and raised money for a phenomenal cause. I found the information about Buffalo Wild Wings very interesting because I would have thought a large successful chain restaurant would have been a little more cooperative. I guess that’s something good to know for the future, depending on which restaurant and location you choose. An open dialogue about the expectations might have been good to have with the manager and staff at Buffalo Wild Wings. I think your idea about incorporating multiple locations might have been best for maximal fundraising. Great job overall! Your post was very insightful!

  4. To begin, I love the theme of the event. Who doesn’t love wings? The fact that the person donating gets food in return is brilliant, because it makes a person more willing to donate. Although it was a low turn out for the event, I am still impressed with how well the idea was implemented. Advertising with flyers and online seems like it was successful in getting the word out and people to the restaurant if you made 600 dollars in revenue with 10% of that being donated.

  5. The concept for this project/charity was a great start for a great cause. But what I tend to notice with some starter charities today, is that they forget the basics when it comes to fundraising and awareness. Sometimes having a bake sale is not enough and same goes with only using social media. I think this fundraiser would have been an even bigger success with more of that type of thinking. I think it is great that after assessing their charity the team realized that in limiting their thought process, they limited the ability to expand the project. Overall I think that with the input the team gave to future teams is a great way to illustrate how to better manage their projects without making the same mistakes of others

  6. I think it’s great that you guys surpassed your worst case goal of $300 and based off reading your “lessons learned” segment, it seems as if your group would certainly raise even more money and awareness in future events. Additionally, it’s great to see that a good number of people were asking you questions about the charity and how they help people with kidney disease. This raise of awareness, could easily lead to these people becoming future donors to the NKFI charity. Also, it’s good to see that your group utilized techniques learned from class. Overall, your group completed all of the objectives and were prepared well for the event.

  7. Glad to read that the fundraiser was able to raise a decent amount of money, especially from those who could not attend. Using EventBrite was a great idea, as it is definitely hard for people to commit to being present. Allowing those to donate online makes it so much easier to support. The power of social media/networks is so powerful today, a share of a link can go a long way.

  8. You guys did an amazing job and as a former non-for-profit worker with extensive experience in fundraising I’m letting you know that you did very well, I would not say though, that $60 raised from “Eat a Wing Raise Funds” was a low amount because it means that overall dinners bill was $600, and I think that your team should repeat this fundraising and use your experience to increase donations. I have one question and one suggestion for future events – first I would like to know how you measured success of your objective #1? Second I would recommend have multiple people handing vouchers in a close proximity to the restaurant during the time when the restaurant accepts those vouchers.

  9. Great job with the initiative and hope to reach out a health non-for-profit cause with your fundraising management project. The fact that you recognize the weaknesses in this project and propose feasible solutions shows you took this learning experience as an opportunity to reflect and build on. As you say, maybe having researched the demographics of the restaurant and its diners would have been helpful when deciding were to host this event. As we learned in our class this week, there are ten strategic decisions to be made from an operations management standpoint, location strategy is one of them.

  10. Because I used to work at a restaurant for years, I am familiar with the idea of raising funds and having a portion of the sales go to the cause. Great job on putting everything together and making it work and thanks to the owner of the buffalo wild wings franchise for donating to the cause. In this case, as soon as I read the part of the article that said “best case” and “worst case”, it almost felt like there needed to be more planning involved. By setting a goal, putting strategies together would be better because that way everyone is thinking about meeting that goal. It looks like you guys were able to spot that a little event turned out to be a huge responsibility and for the future, you guys have a better idea of what to expect and how to go about it…Again, a little goes a long way and your event brought awareness to more people

    Edwin C

  11. I think this is a great idea to raise money for such a good cause. I am working for a non profit now raising money for my school and this sounds like a great idea. It looks like your team did a great job preparing for the event also. I think the best way to get more people to attend is to maybe make flyers for the cause two weeks in advance so people might come just to support it.

    Tyler

  12. I think the group had a great idea for the fundraiser. After reading this blog post I’m definitely going to look into restaurants around the area to see if they have similar programs- great idea for the group to use a Buffalo Wild Wings! I would be interested to see what other restaurants offer a donation percentage of meal sales. It was great to see how the group tried to promote the event through many different avenues. One of their goals was to obviously get peopel to the event, but it’s important to also focus on spreading information to the public about the actual charity. The group seemed to do a great job with that! When sitting down initially and discussing the process plan it was nice to see the group take the time to break the project down into WBS, Gantt charts, and risk management plans. Just shows that the material we’re learning can really be useful! The only thing I think the group could have improved on would be to pass out flyers and post on social media further in advance.

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