Courage through Crisis Fundraiser

The Project

The pandemic took us all by storm, but we have learned that even through tough times, there is a heightened sense of community, empathy and goodwill. While people have been quick to give to those impacted most by the pandemic, other lesser-known organizations have suffered due to a decrease in donations and volunteers. To drive impact for a charity that needed it most, we chose to amplify El Valor, a local Chicago non-profit organization with a personal connection to our team. El Valor focuses on helping both children and adults with special needs to live, learn and work in the community by providing guidance and support to empower them to be their best selves.

Given the overall decrease in donations and volunteers, we wanted to double our group’s effort and carve out two separate workstreams that would benefit El Valor.  Our first workstream covered a peer-to-peer fundraiser to raise donations, while our second workstream centered on a day of service event held on-site at one of their residential homes for adults with disabilities. Both workstreams are outlined further below:

  • Fundraiser: The fundraising tactic was activated via a GoFundMe peer-to-peer fundraiser page. Although the organization had an existing donation page set up, we wanted to create a dedicated page for our efforts for ease of tracking and reporting results. The goal was to raise at least $1,250+ for El Valor, to be applied towards their children/adult programs.
  • Service: The service event took place on May 15th from 9 – 12pm. Each team member brought a plus one, so a total of 10 volunteers showed up to help El Valor get one of their adult residential homes ready for Spring/Summer through gardening, landscaping, and painting. This also allowed an opportunity for us to personally connect with the charity on-site and well as the wonderful women that lived in the residential home.

The Charity

El Valor is a local Chicago non-profit organization serving 4,000 children and adults with disabilities and their families annually.  Founded in 1973, El Valor strives for a community in which all members, including individuals with special needs, can live, learn and work.  Their programs exist to create opportunities that enrich and empower vulnerable populations to become their own advocates and promote a sense of inclusion within a learning community.  Their vision is to aspire to be a leader in social justice and premier organization that supports vulnerable populations to meet their full potential.  One of our own team members has a personal connection to this organization, as her own family benefited from the many services El Valor offers.

Analysis of Success 

  1. Raise Funds $1,250 through P2P fundraiser + obtain $250 in company match
    1. Goal Exceeded: Our team exceeded our best-case scenario and raised $1,935 for El Valor. $1,685 through GoFundMe + $250 in company match.
  2. Provide Service to the Community
    1. Goal Met: We had 100% participation! Ten volunteers showed up to plant flowers, paint a fence, mow the lawn and overall cleanup of one of the residence homes.
  3. Learn about Project Management
    1. Goal Met: Our project deliverables especially our Risk Management Plan, WBS and Gantt chart were very helpful along the course of our project to keep us on track and ensure we were prepared for everything.
  4. Have Fun
    1. Goal Exceeded: Our team had a great time working with the residents and spending time as a team volunteering.

Lessons Learned 

  1. It is better to start earlier and fail fast. We chose to partner with our first charity due to a personal connection, however, we quickly learned that our contact was not a decision maker and could not help us quickly identify options for an in-person event. There was a bit of lag on initial communication, so as a group we decided that it would be best to fast-track a second charity of choice.  Luckily, we were able to quickly pivot due to another personal connection on the team.  You’re bound to experience a problem or two during the project timeline that will force you to pivot.  The sooner you start, the faster you’ll identify what’s “failed,” allowing you more time to adjust plans accordingly and chart forward on your project’s critical path.
  2. Be flexible and adapt to changing conditions. Flexibility is crucial in all aspects. Whether it is providing different ways for group members to contribute or managing obstacles, the more flexible the team can be, the less friction your group will feel throughout the project.

Our Advice 

  1. Communication is key – We had heard from previous classes/quarters that communication played a huge role within their teams and project planning, and our team took that advice seriously. At a minimum, our group met 1-2 times a week.  Outside of class time/meetings, we also had a Teams chat where we communicated on a daily basis and used this platform to share our files and any updates live.  Having strong communication and a few communication channels allowed our team to move quickly while time was of the essence.
  2. Stay on top of deliverables and use what works best for you! Our team leveraged the WBS and Gantt Chart early on to identify nearly all tasks required for successful completion of the project.  Once the framework was outlined, it allowed us to divide and conquer throughout the course and meet all deliverables in a timely fashion