Field Project Audit- Save-A-Pet Carwash

Description of the Project

Our team’s goal was to organize a car wash, with the help of some gracious volunteers, in attempt to raise awareness and funds for a Save-A-Pet (SAP) while applying the concepts and principles we learned in our project management class. SAP is a local, nonprofit organization and one of the largest no-kill cat and dog rescues in Lake County that operates a full-time adoption center which provides a safe haven for abused, neglected, injured, and lost  animals.

Although SAP was unable to host the event on-site, they were able to put us in contact with Culver’s who had partnered with them multiple times before. A few email exchanges later, we were able to establish a date, time, and location (July 26th 9AM to 4PM at Culver’s of Grayslake) for our event. The accommodations could not have worked better as Culver’s dedicated a large portion of their sectioned off parking lot for our event and they offered use of their water connection. Fortunately for our team, one of our team members worked for a company that produced almost all the supplies (buckets, sponges, drying rags, and squeegees) we needed for a car wash and agreed to donate all of them for the event. The only supply we needed to obtain was car wash soap which was donated by one of our team members as well.


In addition to providing a car wash, we had representatives from SAP on-site with information about their cause as well as pets available for adoption and a shaded area with refreshments for potential donors to sit while they had their car washed. This worked tremendously well as demand fluctuated throughout the day.  When demand peaked, the representatives provided a welcome distraction for our donors.


Lastly, we had an online fundraiser available for those who wanted to help out SAP but were unable to make it to the actual event.  We also had a couple donation jars by the cash registers inside Culvers encouraging people to donate or just give their loose change.


Factual Analysis

Our project progressed from a simple RFP to an execution plan as well as risk management plan. The implementation plan provided an OBS, WBS, and milestone schedule to give us a firm grasp of all the steps, time commitments, and verifications that we needed for our project to be a success. This laid the path for completion, and we just had to execute.


Although the execution did not go exactly as planned in terms of personnel due to vacations/ work and family commitments, we all were able to fill throughout the life of the project and pick up where others left off when needed. Luckily, we did not have deviate much from our plan. The most significant deviation was securing a location which took longer than expected. In the meantime, we were able to work on a website and marketing material while the location was being finalized. This allowed us to quickly update for location and distribute once the location was known. The risk management plan was an integral exercise because it made us think about any potential pitfalls that could derail the success of our project. We were again lucky in the sense that we did not have to act on any of our risks.


Our project was a success as we generated $970 of donations during the carwash as well as $370 online.  One of our team members was also able to do a company match for $300 giving us a total of $1,640 donated to SAP.


Advice for Future Teams

The following is some advice for teams doing a similar event:

  • Advertise early and often- Even though we thought we had a lot of marketing, we did not seem to get as much reaction from it as we planned.  Also, make it personal by sending out emails individually (avoid mass emails) or talking to people directly.

  • Communication is key- Get on the same page with your team members.  Know everyone’s availability/unavailability when making decisions and splitting up the work.  There is less covering for other people if the work is already divided in a sensible way to begin with.

  • Get to know your charity- ask for their advice since they typically have experience with fundraisers.  Also, it is good to use their already established networks.

  • Teamwork- Keep a positive attitude when working with your team.  Sometimes you will have to be a team player and be flexible in order to get things done on time or have to compromise since there are many opinions.

  • Have fun!- People are more likely to donate or participate if they see you having fun and doing your best with a project.  Enjoy the experience and the fact that you are supporting a good cause, whatever it may be.


Lessons learned from managing the project

We learned many lessons from our project, but here are some of the main ones:

  • Listen to ideas- make sure to use small group skills and communicate well with the other team members.  Being a good listener is just as important as suggesting ideas.

  • Schedule is crucial- sometimes there is little to no slack so it is important to stick to the scheduled plan.  Having a risk plan is just as important to think through the things that could happen.

  • Complete the basics first- as soon as the project starts, do not jump ahead.  We all have a tendency to see the potential of how great a project could be, but do not neglect the basic predecessors that need to happen before even getting to that point.


10 thoughts on “Field Project Audit- Save-A-Pet Carwash

  1. This looks like such a fun project that really made a difference within the community. I liked your advice that you can never do too much marketing. I have had the same disappointment during my last position as a marketing intern. I think the way you approached this task showed a lot of teamwork and coersion to complete the task in a manner that inspired others.

  2. This project reminded me of all the past experiences I had volunteering at a local animal shelter. I think it’s very inspiring that even within your busy lives you found ways to raise awareness and funds for the Save-A-Pet organization, and as a team you fulfilled your goals. Even though not every thing went according to plan, I think your project was an overall success. I like how as a team you reflected on the lessons learned. I also agree that teamwork and communication is crucial in any project.

  3. Your writing made me think that we should help raise awareness under any circumstances. This post caught my attention because over the summer i was out in Detroit, Michigan and the same organization was in full effect. To help the cause, my team supported the project and made donations from the heart. What I also learned was how much work and responsibilities had to be taken and how well a team can be if action is taken accordingly. Also what i found important about this blog was the advice given to the readers, it helps with future tips for projects which creates finer teams/projects.

  4. First off congrats on a successful event! I think it’s very important that you mentioned how “communication is key”. Often times a group project can hit an unforeseen speed bump when group members fail to clearly communicate their roles with each other. On another note I was wondering if your group had a selected project manager. If not do you think your event would have run smoother with a project manager or would it have been more or less the same?

  5. It sounds like the operation went very smoothly! I like the charity you picked to help raise awareness. It’s important to advocate a place where people can bring lost or injured animals. I enjoyed reading the advice section. It looks like you guys had a lot of fun doing this!

  6. You should be proud of your work. I am 100% in support of local no- kill animal shelters. In regards to the project management advice, you bring a good point about locking in a location, often that is the hardest part. You guys were very resourceful and that played a key role in your success, kudos.

  7. This project seemed to be not only helpful for the no-kill animal shelter by raising a great amount of money for them, but you made it fun and educational. I like that you guys noted how there were things you could’ve improved on to make this project more successful such as sticking to the schedule of the procedure by taking the time to truly plan and organize rather than jumping right into it. I definitely agree with the point you made about having more marketing and choosing to market early on in the project because as soon as you get the word out about the project it will create awareness, then as the project becomes more executed you can build on that awareness and before you know it your turn out will be amazing. In all, you guys did an excellent job and helped out the organization greatly! You should be extremely proud!

  8. YES!!!!!
    First of all, thank you guys for putting something together in the community to raise awareness on the subject!
    I have been an animal lover since forever and that’s why I support anything that has to do with awareness for animals that need treatment and or a loving home. The fact that you got culver’s to help out with the space and the water supply was a huge help. I completely agree that location security should be locked down for future use. It kind of sounds like you guys learned a lot after the event and in my opinion, that is very important because that’s what is going to make it better the next time around. I can only imagine how much more money and more awareness the car wash could bring in the future! I’m excited for you guys!

    Fellow animal lover,

    Edwin C

  9. This is awesome that you did this! I know someone who has adopted a dog from SAP. Hats off to you. It was disappointing to read that your project did not turn out as well as you hoped. I saw you ran into some trouble and had to deviate away from your original plan. In this business world I could potentially see this happening all the time and it was good that you were able to adapt and conquer the challenges. After reading your advice section in your blog I couldn’t agree more when you said that communication is key. I agree with this statement 100%. Without communication a business group or entity could potentially fail. One needs to communicate with employees for standards, requirements, needs, and goals in order for a group to succeed. When going forward, I will use this blog as a future lesson on how to overcome obstacles that may arise in our project.

  10. Great job with your big donation to SAP. I like the straightforwardness with which you reflect on your project and experience with management planning. Marketing, as you mention, is key to the success of any cause, and learning from the organization’s experience is a good way to start. I like how you began working on all aspects of the project from the get go, even though location was defined later in the planning. As you suggest, it is not a good idea to neglect predecessors in a project as they are important for the flow of the whole process.

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