Team SaMBA

Our team chose to host a fun day of games, food, and friendship to support the Greater Illinois Chapter of the National MS Society at Dave & Busters in Addison, IL.  Admission to the event was $30 for adults and $20 for children.  The package included unlimited soda, assorted appetizers, unlimited video games, and $5 towards ticketed games.  Prior to the event, our team collected over 40 various silent auction and raffle items including a signed Isaiah Thomas basketball, Blackhawks tickets, various gift cards, car wash coupon books, spa services, snowboards, and other household goods.  Our initial goal was to raise $750 at the door and $500 from auction and raffle items; we exceeded our goal and raised over $6,000, with online donations continuing to roll in.


To solicit donations, several group members used personal and professional connections to get silent auction and raffle items. We also went door-to-door to businesses and sent emails to others that were found online to request donations; the door-to-door method was fairly successful, though email requests were mostly denied.  By gathering approximately 50 silent auction items, our team far surpassed our original projection.


Though our actual attendance of 85 only surpassed our projection of 75 guests by about 13%, we were surprised by the generosity seen through $1,467 in online donations, $2,210 in silent auction sales, ticket sales, and additional donations given at the event. We beat our total estimated receipts by approximately 400%, and made our personal network and staff from the National MS Society take notice. Through Evite, alerts sent from the DIY fundraiser website, and personal emails, we were able to reach out to over 500 people, spread awareness about Multiple Sclerosis, our goals for the project, and solicit donations and interest for the event. We also created flyers that were posted and distributed in many arenas, but unfortunately this effort did not seem to create additional attendance. The majority of our attendees were friends and family (especially Jeff’s)!

After completing this fund raiser, out advice to future teams is to begin early in selecting an idea and choosing a charity.  Seeing as many companies require 4-6 week time frame before assigning donations, time is of the essence.  Initially delegating subject matter experts for key roles in our project helped keep our team organized and on task throughout the planning process and on the day of the event.  A key lesson we learned is that you can never be too organized:  analyzing risks, creating a detailed outline of the day’s events, and staging practice-runs is extremely important to success.

Flexibility is also of prime importance:  if people seemed bored or the event slowed down, we were prepared to move speeches into slow spots or evident gaps.  We actually took advantage of this strategy at one point when we temporarily ran out of food; we moved speeches and a video into a fifteen-minute time slow while Dave and Busters prepared more food.  Due to this prior planning, the audience was unaware of the misstep.

Lastly, we also paid attention to another unique situation for our team.  Unlike many of the groups, we had to pay for a portion of the attendance in advance, and food and beverage fees were not directly linked to attendance figures.  For this reason, it was very important to continuously reassess turnout and touch base with staff from Dave and Busters to amend the anticipated attendance figures, so we would not lose any additional profit by overpaying or over ordering food or game cards.


Overall, our team was lucky because every member was willing to work cohesively toward a common goal.  In the short time frame that we were offered, our team was able to come up with impressive results.  The most fulfilling part of this project is that all proceeds went to a charity that our team passionately supports.  What a great culmination to our MBA degree.




Charity begins at home?

After being given the task to “create, plan, and execute a fund raising project for a designated charity,” one of the first questions our group asked each other was what charity does our team want to support?  In the course of everyday life, this question remains relevant.  When a disaster occurs, numerous charities ask for donations to help rebuild a community, friends and family participate in walks or runs in order to raise money for a cause, and solicitations from third parties are abundant.  Asking yourself a few simple questions and giving donation parameters can help determine whether the cause or special project is the right place to donate funds.  An interesting article in the Washingtonian helped clarify some questions that I have had in the past while donating to a specific cause or charity.

1.      Pick a problem you care about- “Whether seasoned or first-time givers, people become consistent donors and take more pride in their gifts when they contribute to an initiative they find important” <>.  Small donations pop up throughout the year, but when it comes to a major or annual gift it is important to feel strongly about the cause you are donating to.

2.      Decide whether you’d rather invest locally or globally- Multinational charities help those in need all around the world, but the downside is that the results aren’t evident in one’s local community.  Both arenas are worthwhile, so the answer to this question depends on the individual donating.

3.      Research online- Once you have selected an organization, there are many helpful websites that can provide valuable information and help dig deeper to make sure your funds are being put to use in the most effective way.  <>  and <> are good places to start.

4.      Look for red flags- A few examples are excessive salaries, revenue or expense projections that greatly deviate from a prior year’s budget, non-diverse revenue sources, and board members who don’t participate by donating to their organization.  Non-profits should hold to the same standards as a for-profit organization.  If the charity doesn’t seem to track figures or illustrate a level of transparency about funding, it may not be the right direction to take.

5.      Call or visit your finalists- Every organization has volunteers that should be able to talk to you about the work the charity does and how it impacts those in need.  Smaller organizations may take more time responding to each request, but it is important to know what the goals are of the charity and to see whether they align with the guidelines you feel are important.

6.      Get started early- As the year winds down, many people want to donate funds for tax purposes.  Make sure to give yourself and the charity enough time to answer your questions without end-of-year pressures.

So far, our group has had an extremely difficult time actually connecting with a representative from our charity.  I am the “central region charitable contributions lead” for my corporation, and these communication issues seem to be similar for many charities that my corporation supports.  Have you encountered communication barriers while working on this group project?  Have you donated to a charity in the past and then found out that they were fraudulent?  What other items do you consider while donating funds?


Beauty and DePaul’s Basketball Beast

New Depaul Arena Mccormick Place

DePaul and the city of Chicago are partnering to build a “large-scale tourism and economic development project” near McCormick place that will be home to DePaul’s men’s and women’s basketball programs. The city of Chicago will contribute $100 million, and DePaul will donate $70 million in order to make this plan a reality. The blueprints include street-level restaurants and shops, a 400-room hotel, an elevated pedestrian walkway, and will hopefully create 3,000- 5,000 permanent jobs and 5,000 additional construction jobs. DePaul also gains naming rights, income from DePaul ticket sales, and revenue from the Big East Conference.

This collaborative effort has been controversial since the city of Chicago does not appear to be in a financial place to make this sort of business move. As an example from recent news, 50 Chicago public schools are closing both due to lack of enrollment and for cost-cutting purposes.

DePaul’s basketball program is not exactly a powerhouse, and game attendance continues to dwindle. This facility will be closer to campus than the current Allstate Arena location, but it will still be 50 blocks away which doesn’t make the proximity ideal. To make matters worse, the United Center offered DePaul the option to benefit from 10 years of free rent plus all ticket revenues, but DePaul declined the proposal. As tuition continues to rise, many students question whether this is the way they feel their precious money should be spent. City representatives claim that the arena will break even the first year, but the numbers used to create these predictions seem to be optimistic and unrealistic.

On the other hand, a project like this could create jobs, further stimulate tourism, and increase tax revenue which could possibly strengthen the city of Chicago which has been struggling. “The majority of the money the city plans to put toward the construction is coming from the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which is a separate entity from the city of Chicago. This basically means the MPEA cannot use its resources to help avoid the struggling school system as its sole purpose is to expand Navy Pier and McCormick Place, which are two of the most frequented spots by tourists.” (Fox News) The new arena also offers DePaul an opportunity to rebuild their basketball program by encouraging a higher caliber of athletes that will be enticed by the top-notch facility.

What were your thoughts when you received the e-mail announcement about this new “partnership” from President Holtschneider? Do you think this is a good investment for DePaul? Do you think that it will help DePaul’s basketball program in both attendance and recruiting? Do you think this project will benefit the City of Chicago in the long run?

Sources: http://college-

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Financial Woe is Me

The recent recession and high rate of unemployment have impacted spending habits around the world in a variety of ways.  This economic period has forced many people to cut back and alter their spending habits.  Fear, a difficult emotion to overcome, has entered the picture.  A downturn in the economy can encourage people to return to a simpler lifestyle.  Financial choices become more sensible and deliberate, and for many, it is unlikely that these spending reductions will be reversed.  “Even when prosperity returns, 60% predict they will continue to spend less money than they did before” (


Table courtesy of


What is the complexion of the post-recession shopper? 

 The average consumer will shop at stores with lower prices even if it isn’t convenient.  Consignment and resale shops have become more popular during the recession, and 99.6% of consignment shoppers plan to continue to shop at these locations (  For those who are tired of sacrificing, a “do-it-yourself” solution may be the answer in order to obtain more expensive products at a lower price.  Online sales continue to increase which greatly affects the retail sales market.  Consumers are beginning to adopt a new and very conscious set of standards. 

What does this mean for the retailer?  The new consumer values deals, promotions, and reward programs.  Savings-related information must be easy to navigate and readily available.  “Retailers should review the number of price points and optimize the numbers of gaps between price points in each category” (  Private labels, used frequently during the recession, are now considered to be on par with the well-known brands.  Consumers feel that these private labels are “good enough,” as opposed to a prior mind-set making premium brands a must.  Consumers are able to go on-line to research and compare products before purchasing.  It is imperative to engage shoppers in the full path from purchase to home and in-between  (

It is not only important to understand consumer purchasing trends, but to also understand what psychologically drives his or her behaviors.  Frugality is a learned behavior, and learned behaviors are difficult to change.  Often times, these behaviors turn into habits (  Shopping has taken a more disciplined, thoughtful approach with less impulse and more reflective research before purchasing an item.  Spending to excess is no longer in vogue.

Will focusing on promotions, better values and incentives, and the right demographic be the answers to capturing the competitive retail sales market?  How else can retailers better address this new value-driven environment?  Shoppers have found a new “normal” and they aren’t looking back.



To Green or NOT to Green that is the Question

A corporation’s decisions regarding sustainability impact both their brand and their bottom line.  There are direct and indirect strategic reasons for a corporation to “go green.”

 The global ecosystem has been threatened which makes reducing waste and increasing energy efficiency more and more important.  Corporations can conserve by cutting down on packaging, using energy-efficient lighting, recycling, purchasing energy-efficient office equipment, and adapting to alternative heating and cooling solutions.  Many companies are warming up to the idea of working in LEED Certified buildings.  “LEED is an internationally recognized green building program.  It provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions” (  A 2011 study released by MIT found that sustainability is now a permanent part of 70% of the corporate agenda ( 

 Interbrand released their 2012 annual Best Global Green Brands report, and automotive and technology companies dominated the list.  Toyota, Johnson & Johnson, and Honda were the top three players.  This report “… examines the gap that exists between corporate environmental practices and consumer perception of those practices…” (  Reports like this not only strengthen a brand, but also encourage and challenge corporations to further develop new energy-efficient practices.

 As more and more companies realize the financial benefits of “going green,” they also recognize the positive way that this strategy impact their customers, employees, and overall image.  A positive environmental message attracts superior associates, creating a healthier, safer, more team-oriented work environment.  92% of young professionals would be more inclined to work for environmentally-friendly companies (  Many employers offer team members the option to work remotely which saves in vehicle maintenance, gas, and parking costs and may also relieve external family pressure and stress.  These factors, not only, cut overhead expenses, but also increase employee efficiency and overall morale. 

 A modern family tends to be more environmentally conscious than those from past generations.  Recycling and reducing waste have become commonplace practices.  A focus on sustainability attracts and engages customers and is a brand-strengthening asset.  35% of consumers are willing to spend more for green products as long as the product is comparable or better than the competitor’s product (  “Going green” also tends to attract investors and can create a positive media buzz.  It is important, however, that a corporation does not misuse this asset.  “… A brand’s efforts in this area could serve as an under-utilized asset, or conversely, suffer due to accusations of ‘greenwashing’” (

 It is clear that businesses no longer believe that “going green” is a fad.  Consumers demand green alternatives and illustrate this through their spending patterns.  The focus should always remain on the bottom line, but attention to sustainability has proven to be a way to positively impact these figures.