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.
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.
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.