Help Save the North Pond

The Project

Our team focused on organizing a service project to support the Lincoln Park Conservancy’s restoration efforts of the North Pond and the surrounding areas of North Pond Nature Sanctuary.  The charity regularly relies on volunteer support and made it clear that volunteer service was a top priority given COVID-19’s impact on in-person activities.

Therefore, we organized a 2-hour volunteer service event to beautify the North Pond nature area. Volunteers chose between one of three activities: removing invasive cheatgrass along the pond shore, planting and gardening in the family play area, or picking up trash around the park.  Our goal was to recruit 50 volunteers and raise awareness for the North Pond by utilizing our personal networks (via personal outreach and sharing event details on social media). An Eventbrite page was leveraged as a sign-up and tracking tool which enabled us to communicate directly with volunteers before and after the event.

In addition to being fun, the event had to be safe. While the event was outdoors, volunteers were asked to split up into smaller groups and remained socially distanced.  PPE was on hand as well. To enhance their experience, volunteers were provided granola bars and water.

Lastly, in addition to hosting a volunteer event, as a secondary goal, we asked volunteers and those in our networks unable to attend to donate through the organization’s existing peer-to-peer fundraising system. Our goal was to raise $1000 in support of LPC. 


About the Charity

Founded in 1984, the Lincoln Park Conservancy operates under a formal agreement with the Chicago Park District to restore and maintain 1,214 acres of some of the most highly used parkland in Chicago. The conservancy engages in historic conservation, ecological restoration, and park programming to restore and maintain donor-restored park sites and improve Lincoln Park. The Help Save the North Pond Project is one of many privately funded projects LPC supports.  Shallow depth, algae blooms from high temperatures, erosion, and nutrient runoff have contributed to North Pond’s dying ecosystem.  The Lincoln Park Conservancy has launched an ambitious campaign to secure private funding and volunteers to support a restoration project to save the North Pond.


Analysis of Success Measures

We were extremely pleased with the success of our project. The weather on the day of the event was sunny, clear, and beautiful which helped us achieve a 95% volunteer turnout. We received lots of positive feedback from volunteers on how well organized the event was and how much fun they had. In terms of success measures:

  • 52 volunteers recruited on a goal of 50 thus exceeding expectations.
  • 104 hours of service contributed (All 52 volunteers stayed for the entire 2 hours of the event).
  • $735 in donations raised on a goal of $1000, falling short of our goal by $265.
  • 2500 square feet area of cheatgrass weeded.
  • 400 wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs were planted.
  • 15+ bags worth of trash collected.
  • $76 in actual expenses on a budget of $200. Favorable variance driven by not tapping into contingency budget and over-estimating food and beverage costs.


Lessons Learned

  • For a service event, do not be overly concerned with the food and beverage you are providing. At the end of the day, the volunteers were focused on the service and not refreshments. While they were grateful for snacks and water, everyone’s priority was on volunteering.
  • Identify the strengths and areas of interest among team members to help lead tasks. This will ensure all team members contribute effectively and are engaged throughout the project.
  • Work with a charity you have a personal connection with that has the capacity for collaboration. LPC’s active engagement helped facilitate a successful event.


Advice for Future Teams

  • Meet early and often both with your group and the charity. Weekly team and charity meetings helped keep everyone aligned and the project moving along. Frequent meetings built a strong group rapport and enabled everyone to work more cohesively.
  • Ensure everyone is passionate about the project and the charity. This will engender high levels of commitment from all group members and will keep everyone engaged.
  • For any team considering a large-scale volunteer event, maximizing sign-ups and turnout is key. Give potential volunteers ample notice to make sure they will be available on the event day. Ensure this by aligning with your charity and establishing your event date as soon as possible and far enough into the future.


Project Photos

Virtual Trivia Night for GCFD

Project Description

This past quarter, our team planned a virtual trivia night supporting the Greater Chicago Food Depository on May 26th, 2021. Our goal was to raise awareness and funding for the Food Depository to support their efforts in the local community. We also wanted to host a Covid friendly event that would be enjoyable for participants without any potential impacts from closures or restrictions put in place for Chicago due to the pandemic.

We partnered with the organization Baig of Tricks Entertainment to facilitate our event. We chose to transfer the task of running the event itself because of their experience running virtual trivia nights over the past year during the pandemic. Baig of Tricks provided a platform for the event through YouTube Live, provided most of the trivia questions, and even emceed the event. Passing along these tasks to their organization allowed our group to focus on marketing the event itself and fundraising for our charity. We wrote two trivia questions for our virtual event about the great work being provided by the Greater Chicago Food Depository to tie in our mission of raising awareness to the trivia event itself. The team marketed our event to friends and family through email communication, social media outlets such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and through direct messages to individuals in our networks we thought may be interested in participating. Through these marketing efforts, we were able to raise well over our initial goal, which we outline below.

Charity Description

The Greater Chicago Food Depository partners with 700+ food pantries within Cook County and is the largest network of food banks supporting Chicago. Food is obtained through individual donations or purchased through government programs. There is also the option to give money rather than food, as the bank gets a discount when they buy the goods themselves.

The organization aids the Chicago community in three main ways:

  • Soup kitchens to offer fresh meals
  • Food pantries to offer non-perishable goods, fresh produce, and nutritional items
  • Mobile food sites to reach more people

Analysis of Team Success

After working for several weeks to generate donations, our event took place without any issues and was very successful. We generated donations of almost $2,000 with minimal expenses as outlined below through donors who either participated in our trivia event or those who wanted to support the cause but could not attend virtually. This total donation amount exceeded our expected revenue by over $1,200. 17 individuals participated in the trivia night itself, which was lower than our goal of 30 participants we set during our project proposal; however, our event also received positive feedback from all friends and family who attended. Please see the full details of our financial overview outlined below. Our total expenses for the event were only $100.43 to hire Baig of Tricks and for shipping costs of the prizes we handed out (which were donated from our team).

Lessons Learned

Some of lessons learned from the event included:

  • Simplicity is key when asking for donations – A few of our participants had trouble following the directions of our donation page which caused two of our donations to be made to the charity through their main website and not our donation portal. We were able to receive confirmation of their donations to include in our totals, but it shows that we could have simplified the process to make this clearer.
  • More people are willing to contribute than you expect – We found that it was worth reaching out to a wider audience to solicit donations as more connections were willing to add donations than we had planned for. Specifically, many connections who we reached through our social media campaigns were unexpected and lead to our overall donations received exceeding our initial expectations

Advice for Future Teams

  1. One owner per task helps with decision making – Early on in our project, we had not yet assigned one main owner to each task which lead to slower decision making and unnecessary meetings that could have been eliminated with better foresight. Once we assigned one main owner to have the decision-making capabilities for different components of the project, it improved the efficiency of decisions and improved our overall process workstream.
  2. Communication is critical. Utilizing Microsoft Team really help our team stay informed and aligned. We also had a text thread for the week of the event which helped ensure we could be notified immediately if anything unexpected were to occur. 

Photographs of the event

Miles That Matter Walk-a-thon

The Project 

Our team sponsored a two-week challenge leveraging Tyson Foods’ Miles that Matter program to solicit protein donations to the NWA Food Bank. The challenge began on 5/15 and ended 5/30. We targeted Tyson employees, friends, and family to log their miles/exercise equivalents for two weeks. The two-week challenge is also a triple-mile event, meaning that Tyson will donate 3x the protein of our logged exercise (ex. three pounds donated for one mile walked). Our goal was to donate 10,000 pounds of protein based on 3,333 miles or exercise equivalents logged. Our goal was 10,000 pounds because this is the minimum amount needed for Tyson to cover the transportation and delivery of the donation.  Anything below that amount would require the food pantry to be responsible for donation pickup.

The Charity 

Proceeds benefited the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank (NWA Food Bank), who works to distribute food to those who are food insecure in the community while forming strong relationships with businesses, non-profit organizations, and others in the community who share the passion to end hunger in Northwest Arkansas. The NWA Food Bank is one of six Feeding America Food Banks in Arkansas, whose desire is for healthy food to reach the kitchen tables of our neighbors as quickly as possible. The NWA Food Bank currently has more than 135 partner agencies ranging from food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and many more.

Analysis of Success Measures

  • Secure 120 participants for the event.
  • 10,000 pounds target allows us to utilize the Tyson fleet to deploy the donation.
  • Solicit $100 in donations for NWA Food Bank (our primary focus was the Walk-a-thon)

Goals for Miles That Matter Walk-a-thon

Best Case:

Average of 25 participants per team member (175 participants total)

Average of 2 miles per day per participant over a 14-day period

175 participants x 14 days x 2 miles/day = 4,900 miles (14,700 LBs of protein)

Worst Case:

10 participants per team member (70 participants total)

Average of 2 miles per participant over a 14-day period

70 participants x 14 days x 2 miles/day = 1,960 miles (5,880 LBs of protein)

Most Likely:

Target 120 participants

Average of 17 participants per team member

Average of 2 miles per day per participant over a 14-day period

120 participants x 14 days x 2 miles/day = 3,360 miles (10,080 LBs of protein)

Final Mileage & Results

A total of 18,585 miles were logged that resulted in a donation of 40,000 pounds of protein valued at $103,736.  To be respectful of the Miles That Matter team and donation recipients a maximum of 40,000 pounds of protein, equivalent to one truckload (18,585 miles would have equated to 55,755 pounds of protein).

Due to the unexpected surplus protein donation, we donated to both NWA Food Bank and the West Pullman community in Chicago.

The West Pullman community on Chicago’s South Side received a donation of 20,000 pounds of protein on Saturday June 6, 2021.  Team Members were in attendance to distribute cases of Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage Links and Ball Park Hot Dogs valued at $59,533.

NWA Food Bank received 10,000 pound protein donation on June 9, 2021, valued at $19,203. The remaining 10,000 pounds of protein will be donated to NWA Food Bank at a to be determined date (based on their freezer capacity) valued at approximately $25,000.

There was a total of 357 participants that averaged 52.06 miles throughout the event.

There was also a total of $120 in-kind donation to the NWA Food Bank.

Lessons Learned

  1. Set and follow targets and deadlines, employing the use of the Gannt chart and other Project Management tools.
  2. Have agendas for meetings and take minutes in a shared document.
  3. Be aware of how much can change can occur from even a small amount of scope creep.

Advice for Future Teams

  • Using templates when sending communications out saves time and creates a uniform message across different communication channels (e-mails, social networks, others).
  • Be in constant communication with the team. Do not commit to something without involving all key stakeholders.
  • Build relationships with charity and donors sponsors.

Day of Hunger

Project Overview

Our team focused our project on raising awareness around food insecurity by conducting a 2-part fundraiser supporting Feeding America. In 2019, before COVID, approximately 35 million people (including 11 million children) were food insecure. In 2020, that number had increased to 45 million (including 15 million children). 1 in 5 children is now living with food insecurity. Feeding America is one of the primary partners in supplying food to many of those food banks.

The first event of our fundraiser was what we called a “Day of Hunger.” For every $100 raised, our team members went one hour without eating, up to a maximum of 24 hours. The team used social media and our network to raise money. All donations raised went directly to Feeding America. This event was held from May 21, 2021, at 5:00 pm until May 22, 2021, at 5:00 pm and was a huge success. The entire team was able to participate in the event for the entire 24 hours.

The second event of our fundraiser was a Zoom cooking event for individuals who donated $50 or more to the charity. One of the McDonald’s chefs hosted the cooking event and taught everyone how to make a McDonald’s Big Mac at home. The Zoom cooking was held on May 22, 2021, at 5:00 pm. Thirty-two donors qualified to attend, with sixteen actually attending. It was a great event, and we received a lot of positive feedback from the participants.

Charity Overview

We selected to support Feeding America, the United States’ largest hunger-relief organization. They help provide approx. 4B meals annually. Feeding America works with farms, manufacturers, and consumer-facing businesses to rescue food that might otherwise go to waste. They provide this food to 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries/meal programs. 98% of all donations go to food and programs for hungry people. $1 in donations can buy up to 10 meals for someone in need.

Analysis of Success Measures

The overall project achieved almost all success objectives. We exceeded our project success objectives for donations, charity awareness, and self-reflection/understanding. We did not fully deliver on the project objective of having 20 people attend the private chef event as only 16 attended. We did have 32 donors qualify for the event, so we feel good that the event generated the interest and donations we were hoping for.

Lessons Learned

While we are pleased with the project’s overall success, inevitably, you can always think of opportunities to improve in retrospect. We have several lessons learned about managing projects we will be taking forward with us. A few of the most critical lessons learned include:

  1. Map out Milestones Early – Leveraging the Milestone Tracker was critical to our success and kept us on track with our deliverables and individual tasks.
  2. Team Meetings Early and Often – Our first team meeting was during the second week of class. Meeting so early in the class schedule was a significant advantage for us as we could begin to build team comradery and discuss initial project ideas, even before any assignments were due. This helped us get ahead on future planning and deliverables. We also met twice per week as a group to check in on progress and align on strategies, deliverables, and key next steps. This was critical for our team as it allowed us to build trust amongst the team and ensured we were still on target for the project. If not, we course-corrected quickly to recover.

Advice for Future Teams

In addition to our lessons learned, our advice for future teams would be to take the time early in the project to think through ideas. Each team member was asked to submit a ‘request for proposal’ individually with a well thought-out idea for a project. This individual exercise helped vet potential project ideas and ensured each team member benefitted from the critical thinking involved with this exercise.

We would also suggest that future teams consider the talent development of each team member when considering the role they will take on and what they want to learn from the project. For example, we had someone on our team whose full-time job was a project manager. We had another team member volunteer for the project manager role to get experience with a skill set they do not do regularly in their full-time job.

Lastly, be sure to assign a clear decision-maker for each task/deliverable. It is very easy to have multiple decision-makers for a task, particularly when tasks are related. However, it is important to have a single team member be accountable to drive decision-making and ensure tasks do not get missed.

Project Photos

Blessings in a Backpack

Blessings in a Backpack Fundraiser


We hosted a “Virtual Packing Event” online fundraiser for Blessings in a Backpack. Our initial goal was “packing” 500 bags with an initial fundraising goal of $2,000 (a cost per bag of $4). Donations received for this online fundraiser will cover costs to provide prepacked bags of weekend food to supplement week-day meals that Chicago kids are receiving through other community resources. Blessings in a Backpack created an online donation portal for us through which donors could give and see progress towards our goal.

Additionally, to coincide with the money being raised via the Virtual Packing Event, we organized a notecard drive to create positive notecards that will be attached to the bags of food for the children and will provide them with positive words of encouragement over the weekend. Our goal was to collect 250 handmade notecards.


Blessings in a Backpack is a national organization made up of seven regional chapters and more than 1,000 volunteer-driven programs. Their mission is preventing childhood hunger on the weekends for the kids who need us most. Blessings in a Backpack mobilizes communities, individuals, and resources to provide food on the weekends for elementary school children across America who might otherwise go hungry. ”

We chose to support Blessings in a Backpack because ~18 Million kids are expected to face hunger due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Tyson Foods employees, we looked for a cause to see “how much good food can do.”

Analysis of Success

Lessons Learned

  • Find a worthy cause that everyone on the team feels passionately about. We spent extra time up front to choose the right charity and fundraiser. We felt behind in the moment, but it paid off later when we didn’t have to tweak anything while we were executing.
  • Meet early and often to keep everything on track! A team member got married during the quarter and our presentations were the week of the Memorial Day holiday. Had we not started meeting earlier on in the project we could have easily fallen behind.
  • Leverage team members individual strengths. We leaned into what our teammates were good at or volunteer to do- everyone was way more engaged, and we didn’t feel like we needed to chase anyone around to get their part done.

Advice for Future Teams

  • Don’t be afraid to aim high. Your goals should be realistic with some optimism baked in. You do not want to sandbag or express a lack of confidence in your project.
  • Don’t start your fundraiser before the Risk Plan is due/complete. It’s tempting to get a jump on the fundraiser by starting early but you don’t want to be identifying risks as you are experiencing them.
  • Take your time on the WBS, Gantt Chart and Responsibility Matrix. If you put the work in on those you will have every deliverable mapped out and protect from scope creep. Avoid emergency meetings to address a deliverable that was not accounted for. The upfront investment saved our team so much time later.

Paws for LLS

The Project

Under the current circumstances of COVID-19, the team wanted to raise funds and create awareness for a charity in a virtual setting. The team decided to create awareness through social media posts and emails as well as create a platform for raising money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Lymphoma is the 7th most common cancer diagnosed in humans and the most common cancer diagnosed in dogs. Because of these facts, it made a common point that the team could relate to and had passion for supporting. To drive awareness of the organization we requested participants to post photos with their pets using the phrase ‘Show us your paws!’ We were also able to raise funds by sharing our link to a GoFundMe platform.

The Charity

The charity event will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). LLS’ mission is to fight and cure blood cancers and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. They have been around since 1949 and have funded nearly 200 research grants around the world, accounting for roughly $1.3 billion in blood cancer research. Through their research, LLS has discovered that humans and dogs are 85% genetically identical and respond to cancer similarly. Because of this, LLS puts their research for a cure towards both humans and dogs.

Analysis of Success Measures

Increase awareness for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Best case: 3,000

Most likely: 2,000

Worst Case: 1,000

Actuals: 6,325

Raise funds for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Best case: $2,500

Most likely: $1,600

Worst Case: $1,000

Actuals: $2,617

Lessons Learned

  • Personal Connection
    • We chose a project that had a personal connection within our group.
    • Helped to motivate our team and to reach our audience!
  • Reach vs Conversion
    • We found that many of our donations came with personal messages from the donors about the impact to them.
    • We also saw significant reach on social media posts that did not receive the same conversion rate to donations as the pet community focused posts.
  • Have Fun!
    • As we moved through the project steps, we tried to maintain a fun atmosphere within our team and to communicate to our audience.

Advice for Future Teams

  • Establishing a clear communication plan in the beginning of the project is crucial. Deciding on the cadence of team meetings and finding a time that works for everyone’s schedules will help mitigate communication and deadline issues.
  • A responsibility matrix is also critical as it will allow the team to effectively manage their time apart to complete their tasks.

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