Project Audit – Chicago Laughs

Project Description



Our team raised funds for Chicago Cares, an organization that builds volunteer experiences to develop and engage the community.

Chicago Laughs was an improv comedy event that was held at Comedy Sportz on August 5th 2014, to raise money for Chicago Cares and create awareness of their cause. Tickets were available for purchase at Our main audience was comprised of event volunteers, coworkers, Chicago Cares supporters, family, and friends. Additional money was raised through online donations, corporate donations, and silent auction.


The event was fully catered with a steak and chicken taco bar.  The main entertainment was a two-hour live comedy act presented by experienced improv comedians in addition to two hilarious members of our team.

The event was put on with a budget of under $100. The facility, catering, talent, and venue were all donated in support of Chicago Cares.


Project Objective and Methodologies Used


  • Raise over $5000
  • Leave our charity, our volunteers, and our team better off than they were two months ago.

When we were creating our project plan our goals were to raise $7500 and have the event attended by over 100 people. By the time we reached the implementation stage of the project, we had focused in on the results we could realistically reach within the time restraints and available resources.

Our methodologies were to focus on one on one contact to encourage ticket sales. We did mass marketing on Facebook, Twitter, and mass email but we found it was more effective to reach out to people individually.  To stay organized, we assigned tasks and areas of responsibility to each team member. We had clear set deliverables and had weekly group meetings to make sure milestones were being meet.

The final amount donated to Chicago Cares was $5530 and with an attendance of 100, including all volunteers.


Advice for Future Teams

1)      Be sure to make realistic goals, especially with money goals and event attendance expectations.  There is nothing worse than having high expectations and not being able to deliver.  Create realistic and attainable goals for your team.  Make sure the scope and deliverables of the project are well detailed and followed throughout the project.  Try to stay on course and don’t get distracted or over burden yourself by trying to do too much.

2)      Success begins with planning.  A well thought out and detailed project plan will prove to be extremely vital.  Be sure to cover all your project management basics.  This will create a seamless event that will allow your team to flawlessly execute.

3)      Personalized promotion.  It was really neat to think about all the tools and technologies at our disposal as far as promotion was concerned.  Having the ability to easily use social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. seemed like a good prospect.  Sending out constant email blasts felt like it would be extremely effective.  As it turned out, approaching people individually with a more personalized promotion approach deemed to be much more effective.

4)      Remember the cause and enjoy!  Don’t get caught up in just trying to raise the most money possible or use the project as a competition.  This project is about so much more.  Don’t forget to fine tune and practice your newly acquired managerial strategies and skills.  Enjoy the fruits of your labor at your event.  Sit back and take notice of all awareness, good people, and success that you and your team have brought together.



Lessons Learned

There were many lessons learned during this project as there is with any.  Once we finished our event and took a step back, the lessons learned seem to be very clear.  Below is a list of some of the major lessons learned throughout our group.

  • Hire Good People, Have Trust in Them
  • Be Flexible
  • Success Begins with Planning
  • Well Defined Roles and Requirements
  • Consult an Expert

It really shows, that if you hire good, trustworthy people, they are going to bring nothing but positives to your event.  I believe the case in point was watching the caterer, Tim Dudik, set up the food and seamlessly service close to 100 people without any problems.  Another quick and easy lesson learned is to be flexible.  Remember to get the job done at any cost and that no job is beneath or above you.  Accept and be open to people’s suggestions and be open to creativity.

As the event ended for our group it was difficult for team members to think of any issues or problems that occurred.  Tom, John and I consistently had surprised looks on our faces throughout the event.  Things seemed to be going so well, that it become apparent there was not much else for us to do to help.  That I believe is a testament to the vigorous and detailed planning that was performed for the project.  With that, having well defined roles and responsibilities was crucial, which really created a well oil machine during the event.  Finally, I believe the group really underestimated one of the biggest advantages that we had, which was a practiced veteran within the improv comedy field.  Josh’s expertise, background, and history provided us the blueprint to an extremely successful event.  I believe all of these lessons learned really allowed our group to create and execute a terrific event that really went without a hitch.


18 thoughts on “Project Audit – Chicago Laughs

  1. It is really amazing how you were able to raise over $5,000 on a budget of a mere $100; way to go. Interestingly enough, I was surprised you thought the emails would prove a vital source of attendance for the event because I almost always disregard emails as so much is spam. It was good to see that you were able to adapt (the ways you reached people and your goals to keep them realistic), as I am sure this was a well-run group that is more than salient by the fantastic results.

  2. A hundred dollar budget seems like a unmanageable amount of money for a fundraiser like this, but receiving $5,000 shows how well you used it. $7,500 seems like a high amount, but I am sure you guys could reach that in future fundraising events since you know how the whole process works. $5,000 however, does put the charity in a better position that it was months ago and that is great how you guys could help.

  3. First of all, congratulations on achieving such a great return on the $100 budget. Having been part of fairly similar projects in the past, I can attest to all of the things you’ve mentioned about setting realistic expectations, having clearly-stated roles for each team member, as well as having a well planned out event. I’m curious to find out how you came up with a $7,500 goal, and what factors led you to set a final goal of $5,000? Congrats again.

  4. Your focus on “one on one” promoting was smart. A lot of emphasis is put on social media promotion, but for a charity event, I definitely think you made the right call, and your success speaks to that. The two keys to your success that stood out to me was your planning and flexibility. Future project teams can definitely learn from what you have done.

  5. It is interesting to see that you were able to raise so much money with only a budget of $100. It’s also cool to see that approaching people on a personal level was able to raise more awareness than social media. On a personal level, it is often easier to delete an email or ignore a Facebook invitation. On the other hand, when someone on the street is trying to raise awareness, I find it much harder to not interact with that person on some level. That personal touch goes a long way and clearly it helped you achieve those great results.

  6. Wow, raising over $5,000 on a budget of $100 is absolutely astounding. What really struck me was something that even many professionals fail to realize, but you did. When you said that when you hire good people you should have trust in them, I could not agree more. Professionals have a way of going bout their business that can seem to make no sense while it is in the process but always comes together at the end seamlessly. I came to learn that leaving trustworthy professionals to their work usually yields better results than when a manager is hovering over their work.

  7. Over $5000 raised is amazing, especially for the time allotted. I can see how the planning stage was a crucial part of your success. You make a great point to say that delegating tasks and making well defined roles makes the project more efficient. Your emphasis on sales is spot on. You can bet that there is a lot to be learned from this project.

  8. Wow! This is amazing great cause and a very fantastic and creative way to raise funds. It’s really unbelievable that you were able to pull this off with less than 100 dollars budget. In this day and age that a meal with a couple of buddies! I have wanted to do something similar for the Ethiopian community and the youth group in North Chicago. But, the costs are astronomically high and that is with several sponsors willing to help put. But, I see the blue print that you have laid out, and the key here is planning. As cliché as it sound it is imperative for the success of the project. I applaud your efforts and congratulations.

  9. Its shocking to see how much you made with only having a budget of $100 and how successful the event was. I agree that when it comes to money goals we should try to be realistic and set a reasonable goal to reach. I also liked the fact that you used social media as well as word of mouth to spread the word of your event.

  10. I like the fact that you kept the goals realistic and had the humility to do so as a group. I’m curious as to what really made you guys rethink the numbers and become more conservative with them- what factor made you realize that it wasn’t realistic. Also the fact that you were able to get companies to donate their services, such as the catering, intrigues me. Was there any incentive for these companies to do so? Perhaps a personal connection with a member of your team, tax breaks, or did they really just do it to donate to a good cause. Either way, excellent job in engaging these companies, your team members, and also these companies to support a good cause and raise a lot of money!

  11. This looks like an awesome idea. I love the thought of using comedy to give back to the community. Comedy is a great way to lift spirits and increase happiness by itself, but using that notion to give back was a great idea. The companies that offered their services must have been in agreement; as they graciously offered their services to help promote your fundraiser.

  12. Damien and Ginger, thank you both for coming to our class last weekend and discussing your group’s project. What I took out of it was how your team recognized a passion within the group and was able to capitalize on it to create an extraordinary event. Our group has been looking internally as well to try to look outside the box of the standard fundraisers and identify such an opportunity for a great event. I believe that you have laid the groundwork for many future classes to create similarly enjoyable and successful events. Congratulations on a job will done!

  13. What a fantastic and unique idea of an event. I think the advice about the personalized promotion is very true. Using social media such as Facebook and Twitter always seems like a great way to reach thousands of potential volunteers and donors, but there can be a lack of any genuine connection from just posting something it may not generate any real engagement or participation. I also really appreciate the lessons learned about consulting an expert. For our team project, we have reached out to numerous folks and groups who have organized similar events in the past. The stories and advice they have given has been very valuable thus far, allowing us to side step some early mistakes we most certainly would have made if it were not from consulting with them on their previous experience. Congratulations on such a wonderful and successful event, thank you for sharing.

  14. Congrats on your huge success! Not many teams are able to capture this kind of success on a shoestring budget like that one you had. Chicago Cares is an awesome organization, and it is nice to hear that they were receptive to your partnership. The key objective that stood out in my mind from your group was the importance of planning. The early development stages of organizing a team/event are so vital to success. I’m looking forward to my PM/team implementing/deploying a structure that will align/coordinate our objectives to successfully execute our events. Thank you for sharing your knowledge last weekend! Extremely helpful!

  15. Enjoyed hearing about how this event was pulled off and ultimately how successful it was. The one aspect that I liked about this project/event was that the group was able to identify a strong asset, which was the ties/connection/history to the improv comedy field and then really built everything off of that. The time restraints of the course can make it difficult to search for the big impact idea or a “wow” factor event (which creates inherent risk) so I feel it is best to play to the strengths of one member or area within the team then build/plan around that asset. So whether one member has a strong personal connection to a charity or access to a community/network that can be counted on to show up or a venue that would bend over backwards to accommodate, the group needs to identify it early and plan on what make sense to best capitalize on it.

  16. Hi team, thank you for sharing your story online and in person. It was great to see you guys. Chicago Cares is a great organization. I was amazed by your budget and your planning. Plan,plan, and plan… It’s difficult to create such a successful event, even with the right connections. I think you guys did a fantastic job at raising awareness. I am not on any social media sites, but I think you have convinced me the power it has on people. Also, I liked your advice about knowing someone with a connection with the charity organization or someone willing to take an extra step to help you.
    I think you guys could have charged a little bit more on the tickets by keeping in mind the food and the good time. I think even a recent DePaul event cost was about $45/person or $80/couple :-).
    Congrats again!

  17. This is an excellent post and I appreciate the advice. There are a few things that really resonated with me. One is the importance of planning, having a good initial plan is essential to the long term success of a project and I have personally seen how not having a plan can derail a project very quickly. The second thing was mentioned by Damion and Ginger when they came to our class and that was the importance of having a team member with some project management experience. Having someone who can help establish an initial plan and then keep the group on track within this short time frame is essential. The third thing, an one of the easiest to forget, is to have fun and enjoy the work you are doing. It is easy to get caught up in the work and forget the purpose of the project, which is helping out an excellent charity.

  18. This is fantastic to see a successful team raise money for a great cause.
    Their lessons learned of having the right people, being flexible, strong planning, well defined roles and consulting experts will help our team be successful.
    Congrats on the success and we look forward to this summer

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