Garage Sale for DuPage Pads


Our team chose to work with DuPage Pads and the First Presbyterian Church of Downers Grove to execute a garage sale fundraiser.  DuPage Pads is the largest provider of interim and permanent housing in DuPage county, providing services such as education support, employment support, case management, and life coaching to end homelessness in DuPage County.


The team decided to do augment revenue at the garage sale fundraiser by incorporating a bake sale, online donations, and a food truck.  The food truck would be a novelty for the area as Downers Grove ordinances prohibit such vehicles from selling on public spaces – not an issue when using private property owned by the church!  We would leverage our existing networks at home, work, and beyond to solicit items for donation for the sale.

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We set three primary goals:

  1. Execute a fundraising event to support DuPagePads and all the good work that they do
  2. Build an understanding of project management tools and processes
  3. Practice project management skills in executing the fundraiser

The objectives of our fundraiser were twofold – to raise at least $500 to donate and to create as much awareness for charity as possible.  Given the time constraint, we agreed that one of our primary methodologies was to focus on cost control in order to generate the maximum amount of profit. We organized responsibilities of each team member by functional area, splitting the online components and media, the bake sale, and contact with the church, charity, and food truck to separate members.  This strategy proved to make logistics more difficult as we had to coordinate drop-offs with the member in communication with the church.


Despite our best efforts to create contingency plans, we experienced some bumps in the execution of the sale.  First and foremost, the food truck was a no-show due in part to storms the night before, but assurances from the owner kept us from implementing a contingency plan until it was too late.  Here, a contract would have helped us recover some of the revenue we had expected to gain from the sales.

We were also unprepared for the interest that the garage sale would generate.  We had allotted 1.5 hours to set up and preparation before the sale, but started getting customers early which then pushed the completion of preparations back until after the official start.

However, we focused on making sure that the key elements such as pricing and signage were in place, and had a successful day!  Our final donation amount was $124 to the First Presbyterian Church and $1113 to DuPage Pads.



  • Lock in commitments with third parties through a written contract – Contracts can help ensure revenues, participation, and control costs with any third party.  The use of contracts gives a project manager the ability to outsource tasks while also providing recourse in the event a contingency plan is needed.
  • Give online fundraising the attention it deserves – Online fundraising sites can give you the biggest return for the amount of time and effort invested.  Be sure to make access to the page as easy as possible by creating QR codes and hyperlinks to include with your electronic communications.
  • Contingency plans – Make plans for anything that plays a critical part in your event.  Some of the most difficult considerations are for events outside of your control such as the weather or an accident, but you should be prepared and ready to handle such obstacles.
  • Traffic, traffic, traffic – When it comes to fundraising, the objective to raise awareness of the charity is tied directly to the success of the event.  By garnering the support and involvement of the community, you will guarantee increased revenues no matter what type of event you host.


  • Designate a project manager – A project manager can make communications between group members more efficient and poignant.  Communication is also simplified by having a project manager assign responsibilities and check ins, reducing additional messages and calls for follow up.
  • Keep a strict schedule – Time was the major factor in having things run smoothly.  Estimates for preparation and review should be made conservatively, as well as having built in slack to help accommodate complex tasks.

Encouraging autonomy

I recently completed a minor technical project for my company last week.  Since then, I’ve been considering what went right, what went wrong, and what could have been improved.  The resources I’d been assigned were over-qualified, the budget was generous enough to be irrelevant, and we were given an appropriate amount of time.  In my analysis, I began to fall into a dangerous delusion of self-serving bias – that I was responsible for everything that was correct and the saving grace for everything that was wrong.

Then I came across an article highlighting leadership practices at Google.  It outlined that regardless of a project manager or manger’s background, successful individuals were predictable.  When stated so bluntly the connotation seems negative, but the article elaborates that such predictability fosters autonomy in those around them.  Had I been stifling my team members through micromanagement?  The article opened my mind to the idea that I could have been the cause of many of the problems experienced during the project.

Am I at fault?


What is the solution?

Communication is paramount when entering a situation where the parties involved have different goals and priorities.  As a project manager, my desire to meet scheduled deadlines may have placed unnecessary stress or burdens upon my teammates.  The Project Management Institute offered the following solutions to help get out of trouble:

  1. Seek out your sponsors – Leverage their expertise and experience, don’t avoid escalating requests until it is too late.
  2. Consult with your team – Don’t try to hold others accountable for unforeseen circumstances, utilize team meetings to get honest and open feedback.  Take heed of ideas from others and give them fair consideration against your own.
  3. Rely on backup and supporting information – Create documentation with the idea that it WILL be used later.  Making the effort ahead of time to record details will ensure that they are more thorough as the information is still fresh and will save time later when details are needed.
  4. Enlist outside resources, if needed – Don’t let pride keep you from obtaining outside expertise when necessary.  A timely admission that “I don’t know” is better than letting a mistake carry through to later stages of the project and then incurring rework.
  5. Remember that halt is an option – With the exception of drop-dead dates, remember that asking for more time given reasonable factors is ok.  Taking a bit more time will help to avoid doing too many things at once and get critical components in place that will in turn improve future decision making.


Another article emphasizes that storyboarding, like our class’s Post-It exercise, would prevent or remedy such hold ups. I worried about the impact some of my decisions had over the course of the project – a couple of the employees are now leaving the company perhaps to find autonomy, mastery, or purpose that I did not provide.  One such employee bolstered Google’s view on predictability, stating that while our project went well he sought a “stable” environment.  Distraught, I considered my approach and whether or not to use storyboarding as opposed to a conservative waterfall approach.

Does storyboarding create too many subtasks and therefore encourage micromanaging?

Or does it encourage autonomy?

Is it possible to have increased autonomy without giving up the ability to track progress at a low level?




Organizational Conflict

In the last MGT598 class, we discussed the various advantages and disadvantages of the different types of organizational structures and worked through related issues in the Moss and McAdams case study.  The company for which I work shifted from a functional hierarchy to a hybrid matrix within the last year, which concluded in a mixed reporting structure throughout the company.  Some teams remained grouped by functionality, some were grouped by client or project, and more still were subject to both.


I am a manager for a functional group that spans many of the clients, so I found myself facing a lot of the same issues from the case study such as stated in the textbook:

1)      Dysfunctional conflict – client managers would argue over whose work was the most difficult to obtain the best resource

2)      Limited technological expertise – when resources have to be assigned to each client instead of from a pool it becomes more difficult to balance varying levels of expertise

3)      Poor integration – finding resources to backup or replace those on vacation or sick leave is harder due to the lack of flexibility

In many instances I found that I had inherited the worst of both worlds without any of the advantages, combined with lower headcount following the recession there has not been any recruiting effort to replace or train to meet the changing needs of the clients.

Where should I start to address conflicts with the new reporting structure?

Previously I had established a backup structure which could be easily adjusted as all resources were in a pool under my control.  With the new structure, resources would have to be assigned on a dedicated basis.  I first performed interviews with the resources to create a job analysis document – hours, difficulty, and flexibility for the workload for each client.  I then created a skills document to reflect the levels of talent and experience and produced a skill gap analysis to present to the client managers.


Having the additional input of the managers was important, as there were many interpersonal factors I had not considered such as past grievances and other incompatibilities.  But above all it provided me substantial proof to get a consensus that an additional resource was needed to compensate for the loss of flexibility available for the change.  The documents I created allowed me to translate the skills and requirements into a requisition for a new hire and I was able to meet the clients’ needs.

But where were the organizational considerations?

It was clear that the decision to change the organizational structure was driven by a desire for control from the higher-ups, tired of splitting resources with other departments.  They sold the initiative on the basis that it provided better accountability and cost attribution, yet in reality they were scavenging the smaller clients to feed the needs of those they felt were more important.   The decision to make the change was made from the top down on an inconsistent basis, hinting at favoritism and lack of communication that would have been easily avoided by speaking directly with all team leaders.

In many ways I felt sympathy for Palmer from the case study, being a new manager and struggling against the demands of others.  Yet I was also in a position similar to Sands, having to appease multiple parties at the same time with the limited resources available.  I found the difference between us being my readiness to take action early on and willingness to commit – while compromises must be made, not everything must be compromised.