Field Project Audit – Blue Demons Support Canine Companions for Independence

Dog Fest Logo

Project Description

We raised funds to support Canine Companions’ Dog Fest Walk n’ Roll, the signature fundraising event for the organization that takes place each year.  Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) is a national, non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.

We registered as a team to walk in the event under the team name “Blue Demons”.  Following is a link to our team page: .

In addition to registering for the walk, to raise funds for our team, we hosted a “Rock n’ Roll for the Walk n’ Roll” event on the afternoon of July 27th at Party Animals, a dog-friendly venue in Chicago.  At the event, we had a demonstration by CCI graduates, a live band, food, drinks, games, and a silent auction. To further promote CCI, we provided free T-shirts and Frisbees with the Walk’N Roll logo and our website to all attendees.  We did not charge an entry fee; instead we focused on encouraging attendees to make donations.  We promoted the event through our own social media avenues as well as by leveraging the social media network and website of Party Animals, our event venue, as well as that of CCI to expand our reach.

To fund the event, we started a Kickstarter campaign that generated over $2,000 to pay for expenses related to the event. We are also solicited donations from businesses to use as part of a silent auction to be held at the event.

Project Objectives and Methodologies Used

Our project objectives were three-fold:

1)      Raise awareness and funds for Canine Companions

2)      Apply the principles of project management covered in class

3)      Have a good time

We were successful in raising awareness and funds for CCI, gathering a total of $3,800 in donations, successfully hosting an event attended by over 50 people, and distributing 100 CCI T-shirts and 200 CCI Frisbees. We also reached thousands of people through social media, making them aware of the work done by CCI and the upcoming Walk’N Roll event.

We were also successful in applying the principles of project management covered in class. We created a project proposal, a project implementation plan, and project risk management plan. These documents included specific tasks to be completed, timelines, risk analysis and contingencies, and budgets. Planning and putting on the event enabled each team member to apply project management leadership skills, respond to unexpected changes on the day of the event, and work with a diverse team for a common goal.

Most of all, we had a great time while supporting a worth-while cause. All of us learned more about the work done by CCI and now have an appreciation for how this organization changes the lives of individuals with disabilities. We worked hard as a team and approached the project seriously, but also took time to laugh and enjoy the experience.

Advice for Future Teams

Teams putting on fundraising events would be wise to do the following:

1)      Use the project management tools. Projects with multiple work streams and deliverables benefit from the structure provided by project management tools. Taking the time to follow the process and complete each step is an investment in the overall success of your project. Attempts to save time by skipping steps will only result in greater risk to your project.


2)      Take advantage of the individual skills of your team members. Our team was comprised of individuals with different skills and abilities. We used this to our advantage by leveraging these differences. The role of the project leader was assigned to someone with project management experience. The financial tracking was done by a team member with an accounting background. A team member with a relationship with CCI was our liaison with the organization. While we all worked on each aspect of the assignment, we benefited by recognizing our differences.


3)      Get aligned on a common goal. While each of us made project proposals, once we landed on CCI as our charity and the Rock N’ Roll for the Walk’N Roll as the theme for the event, we moved forward as a unified group. That is not to say we did not have disagreements along the path. However, when issues arose, we were grounded by our focus on the common goal.


4)      Do not be afraid to fail. While failure is always a possible outcome, it is not the inevitable outcome. We combined various ides of rising revenue using the traditional donation approach at the event combined with others. We used a silent auction, a photo booth, a game area and various online donation vectors to generate additional donations. There were times when the group did not want to take on the additional risk of having these events as it would take personnel and time to complete the gather of materials for each event. However we stood up to the challenge and combined all these activities to give our guests an entertaining time outside of the free food, free drinks and free rock band. We did not settle for less. We were not afraid to fail.


5)      Work as a team, assign one leader and forgive. Our team is comprised of all leaders. We each have our own voice and opinion on completing tasks. We listened to each member and worked through the issues that arose by valuing each member in the team for being an equal contributor. Assign a leader to help drive the direction of the team that way it will limit the overall communication issues, by working with one project manager items and work streams organically combine to a successful project. The most important item is to forgive. Forgive yourself and others. When issues arise that prevent others from contributing, call them out on it and ask how the team can help with task or re-assign work. Forgive yourself for not being the leader and dedicating as much time to the project as others. Simply put not everyone has the ability to be an exceptional project manager; focus on the positives you can contribute and forgive your lesser skill set.

Lessons Learned about Project Management

1.)    Successful project management is a team effort. As mentioned above, each of our team members played a different role and made unique contributions. Our collective thinking and effort made the project more successful than if any individual had undertaken the entire effort. This is true not only from a time and workload perspective, but also from the perspective of the diversity of thought gained by having a number of people contribute.


2.)    Risk management is critical.  All projects have risk. The more time you spend identifying them in advance and planning contingencies, the greater the likelihood of success. The more complex the project, the more important this becomes.  By identifying the risks early on, we were able to be flexible if something did not go as planned. Invariably, something will go wrong with a project of any size and complexity. Planning ahead will enable you to achieve your goal regardless of individual challenges.


3.)    Early planning and communication will save time and effort in the long run.  There is often a tendency for teams to want to jump into the tasks associated with a project rather than spend time planning. Staying in the planning phase longer than what might feel comfortable will benefit the team and the project in the long run. Early on, some of our team calls seemed to take longer than necessary as we discussed various aspects of the project. Allowing each time member the time to get their questions answered helped ensure we were aligned so we could move forward as one.


4.)    Numbers do not mean everything. Metrics are great, but they do not measure the entire impact. Of course our team reported the donations generated, and the costs associated with the events. But the items that we did not report on truly makes ours project the most successful. From our event we inspired some of the guests of our event to host a fundraiser for CCI on their own accord. We donated a substantial amount of our t-shirts, Frisbees and other accessories to the group so that they could host another event for the charity. There is no metric for this. The amount of publicity and awareness raised by a single event is hard to calculate and understand the impact from the event, however the ripple effect made from this project will have a much farther reaching effect for the charity and its mission. Therefore while numbers and metrics are important, it is also important to include in the report out the soft topics and items as it will have an impact that may not always be seen in the bottom line.

14 thoughts on “Field Project Audit – Blue Demons Support Canine Companions for Independence

  1. From your post I can really tell that your team had to overcome some internal conflicts but from your results your team definitely overcame them, congrats! An example of this that stood out to me was how your team at first did not want to “take on additional” risks by using a photo booth, game area, etc but eventually agreed to do it which ended up helping make your event a success. You mentioned how planning longer than expected can help the group in the long run, do you think it is possible to plan for too long? If so how do you think one would know when to start without it being too late?

  2. I’m glad your team was able to raise a signficant amount of money for the charity during this assigment while having some fun with it. Any amount people can give does make an impact and even though you did not have huge numbers you were able to make a difference which is the most important part of it all. Everyone has to learn as they go so it is understandable that you had some conflicts. Planning for longer could have helped out a little bit but sometimes you just need to go along with what you have because not everything can be perfectly planned out from the beginning.

  3. It does seem that you guys did an amazing job. I checked out the other website over $4000 in donations is impressive. I also think that you had some great insides about the lessons that were learned as the project was undergoing. I feel though that I am still curious about your costs, even though I understand that not everything is monetary I feel that I know more about your group’s organization and efficiency by looking at the costs.

  4. This made me think about the challenges and rewards when dealing with a fundraiser. You hit on key points when mentioning how the group needs to come together and figure out who is going to do what and how long they have. Just like in many situations you might have, try to think positive and make the best out of them. It was interesting to hear that with your group inspiration guests from the event to action into their own hands an hosted a fundraiser for the same organization! Even though your outcome was not exactly what you were looking for, donation wise, you have to remember that you did make an impact and helped spread awareness of the organization and that is something to be happy about.

  5. Wow, as a dog lover, I think you guys did an amazing job. It seems as though you can attribute almost all your project’s success to the hard work and planning you did prior to the event. It is clear that you understood the importance of teamwork and being passionate about what you are doing. I love the fact that you not only raised money for your event, but had a strong enough impact on participants to get them to start their own at another time. As a dog owner, I deeply understand and appreciate the therapeutic value of a canine companion. While you may have not hit your desired mark in donations, I really do believe you have inspired people (including myself) to something very positive for both the disabled and dogs- that is a huge win in my book!

  6. To begin, I love the enthusiasm for funding the event. Starting a Kickstart campaign is a great way to raise money for funds and spread awareness. I also like how you wrote about advice for future teams on fundraising and project management, because you learn from your mistakes. And someone doing a fundraiser for their first time with little experience can read a blog like this post and understand a little more of ways to begin project management and fundraising.

  7. I think you guys did an excellent job preparing for this walk. It was a brilliant idea to host a “Rock n’ Roll for the Walk n’ Roll” in order to raise funds for the team. The preparation definitely paid off since you guys managed to raise $3,800 in donations. I also agree with the advice you gave when it came to Working as a team, assign one leader and forgive. I think in many cases some people in group projects are afraid to contribute as much because of the fear of the idea being shut down by other group members. The mindset your group had during this project must have given every member a feeling of comfort and equality.

  8. I believe your statement “Successful project management is a team effort” is very true. As shown through your success, every team player, not solely the project manager, contributed to a smooth, well working project. Now even though everyone may not have the skillset to be a leader, if minds are able to collectively collaborate, it seems that the job becomes way easier. Great job on your efforts!

  9. First, I cannot agree more with your advice about teamwork. Utilizing the different skills of team members and then trusting them with their jobs is essential to be successful. No one is an expert at everything, but you can build a team that is. Great advice!

    Another strategy I liked of yours is no entry fee with encouragement of donations. In situations like the one you set up, I feel the need to make sure I donate at least as much as I consumed. Let’s say I received a meal and t-shirt. I’d assume the meal is worth at least $10 and t-shirt $20. Now, realistically, they both probably cost much less, but when it is a charity I feel obligated to, at the minimum, cover my cost. This is an awesome strategy I think more charities should employ for their events.

  10. As Jeff talked about during our first class, social media played a large part in their fundraising success. I think of my own donations for causes and it is usually done through personal e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter. The fact that they had a social media presence, including Kickstarer, from the very first weeks made a difference in the end. I hope we use these methods in our project. Additionally, I believe a live video stream for people that can’t make an event can be a great add to help with donations. Donors can feel like they are at the event and part of the activities that can draw attention and support the cause. To make all of this a success with our field project we will have to plan early.

  11. The one thing I liked learning about this project/event was the multiple paths the team took to continually collect donations up until the event itself. I can easily see how a group can get blinders on and just focus on the event itself and not all the other potential revenue streams leading up to it. Between social media and crowdfunding, there are so many opportunities to be hitting your target market and raising awareness to the cause so any sound plan will should try to leverage every available resource to them.

  12. I think it was a great idea to invite people to venue without charging any fees and then encouraging them to make donations. I think this is better for the donors as they can donate as much donation they want to make instead of limiting themselves to a specific amount. Also, promoting event through social media and leveraging social media network to expand the reach was an excellent way to raise the word and reach out to the world. I think the most important thing was that you guys worked hard as team and had a great time while supporting the charity. Great work!

  13. I think that a really great point to make note of here is the consideration of on site donations vs preemptive ticketing. There would seem to be a unique challenge in having enough passive interest generated premptively to guarnatee ticketsales. No one buys a ticket for a concert to a band no one has ever heard or right? So there is some point where being preemptively aware allows for pre-event sales to occur. I would be curious to see a model of that point and its tolerances. Additionally, a huge note is passive income generation, securing additional revenue streams will be critical to any project as such, or business for that matter. Your consideration of risk management as a vital part of the puzzle strikes me as right on, having the forsight to consider roadblocks and proactively be prepared for them, will always allow a stronger degree of success. Lastly, start asap, act with urgency is right on the mark!

  14. I agreed with your statement “Numbers do not mean everything.” There is no doubt that we all want to raise more money for the charity. Thousands of dollars in such a short period of time is impressive. However, there is something not measurable but more important – public awareness. As we all known, “give a man a fish you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. This event serves as a tool to educate the public. We have such a great organization that people might not be aware of. I believe the organization will be benefit from your project for a long time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *