Team Heart – West Suburban Humane Society Fundraiser

Our team’s mission was to raise funds and collect in-kind donations (supplies) for the West Suburban Humane Society (WSHS).  We chose to support this non-for-profit organization by selling raffle tickets ($5 donation per ticket), getting general donations (no tickets purchased), and collecting supplies for the shelter (dog/cat food, paper towels, laundry detergent, etc.).  We held an event on 07/07/2017 at our place of employment in two parts: a lunch session “Meet and Greet,” and a Happy Hour session after work.  We provided cookies for the Meet and Greet and served snacks and beverages during the Happy Hour.  The prizes for the raffle (all donated) included the following:

  • 1st Prize: Two VIP tickets to see Chicago and the Doobie Brothers at Northerly Pavilion
  • 2nd Prize: Two tickets to see All Time Low at the Aragon Ballroom
  • 3rd Prize:  Two tickets to SkyDeck Chicago (ten sets available)

We collected donations in the weeks leading up to the event and during each part of the event.  The Executive Director and Humane Educator from WSHS pulled the raffle tickets at the end of the night to announce the raffle winners.

WSHS operates a premier animal shelter in Downers Grove, Illinois for the purpose of finding safe, permanent and compatible homes to adopt domestic dogs and cats.  WSHS serves as a resource to educate the community and animal owners about responsible dog and cat care. One of their many values is to always act ethically and in the best interests of animals and potential adopters alike.

Team Heart set a goal to raise $1,000 and collect 5 boxes of supplies for WSHS.  We more than doubled our goal by raising $2,378 and collecting 6 boxes of supplies for WSHS!

1)  HAVE FUN!  Our group had a great time supporting WSHS in the weeks leading up to the event and during the event itself.  We had musical entertainment and served snacks and beverages.  The more fun we were having, the more successful we were.
2)  ACT QUICKLY, STAY ON TRACK:  A huge part of our success came from identifying our stakeholders and contacting them as soon as possible.  As soon as we chose our charity and event location, we contacted all the appropriate parties right away (venue facilitator, employer HR department, employer facilities, WSHS representatives, “connections” who provided raffle prizes, and most importantly, the potential donators).  Constant communication keeps everyone on track.
3)  IF YOU DON’T ASK, THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS NO!:  Each time we came up with an idea, we contacted the person who we needed permission from to execute it.  Each time we had the opportunity to sell raffle tickets to someone, we took it (at work, home, parties, family events, etc.).  Each time we had the opportunity to ask someone if they had any of the requested supplies laying around the house, we asked them.  Each time we had a suggestion for the group, we threw it out there.  Getting past the fear of rejection helped us to build a momentum that lasted throughout the whole fundraiser.  If we didn’t go for it, we knew the answer would be no!

Be mindful of scope creep.  Our team was excited about our cause which led to lots of creative ideas flowing. All five of us had tons of ideas about how to collect the most donations, how to choose the raffle prizes, how to decorate for the event, how to generate revenues through multiple streams, how to promote our event, etc.  Since we only had 5 weeks, we didn’t have time to explore every avenue. There were many times that we had to recognize that we didn’t have enough time to expand our plans, or we would have let the scope get too large and unmanageable.


Team Pi – JPA Supply Drive

Description of Project

Our project was a multi-stream fundraiser composed of a collection drive for school supplies as well as in-person and online monetary donations.  We partnered with the Juvenile Protective Association (“JPA”) and their mentor program, 9th Gear.    We assembled and decorated school supply collection boxes to encourage participation and placed them throughout multiple floors in our Rosemont Headquarters.   JPA identified our initiative on their donation website in text and also built out a special event to be selected within a drop down menu to have the funds donated be included as part of this fundraiser.  We promoted online donations through flyers, verbally, and through social media.  The divide and conquer approach within our team allowed us to reach the highest number of donors possible.

Description of Charity

Juvenile Protection Association (“JPA”) is a Chicago based organization that was founded in 1901 by Jane Addams.  The mission of JPA has shifted over the years from initially providing the first probation officers within the local juvenile court system to currently providing therapeutic counseling services to at-risk children.  Within JPA, the mentor program 9Th Gear was established in 2016 to offer a summer program to help assist students in their transition into high school.  JPA currently provides therapeutic counseling services to at-risk children, both in the classroom and at home.  The social workers and therapists at JPA recognized that continual involvement with the students set them on a better path entering high school and kept them off of the gang-filled streets.

Success Analysis / Metrics

By researching school supply prices at the locations most 9th Gear students purchase their school supplies from, (Target, Walmart, and CVS), we calculated that the average student requires $30 worth of supplies each school year ($50 including backpack).  Given the brevity of the project timeframe we encouraged participants to provide tangible school supplies, but we also strongly encourage monetary donations as well.  Many of our financial donors were eager to participate even if they did not have school supply items to donate.

  • The calculated value of monetary goods received totaled $1,672.46 / original goal of $200.
  • JPA online donations totaled $2,000.00.
    • $338 in cash was received.
    • $110 received via Venmo.
  • Monetary donations totaled $4,120.46 / original goal of $700.

We emphasized keeping costs at a minimum with the intent to launch our project as early as possible to maximize the donation period. All marketing and donation box materials totaled $75.91. When deducting these minimal expenses from our aggregate donation value received our projects net income came out $4,044.55.

Lessons Learned

One lesson we learned about managing a project is that effective communication is key. We communicated in a way that worked for all of us, either through email or text, and when we met. We were able to effectively manage tasks, clarify any misunderstandings, reach out to help or ask for help through text or email.

Another lesson learned was to stay active with the stakeholders in the project. We had a team member consistently keep in touch with our stakeholders to obtain and provide updates. This helped our team shift focus when needed and remained persistent until we exceeded our goal.

Advice for Future Teams

Create a clear detailed project plan, a work breakdown structure, and a risk management plan to help prepare for what needs to be done and to help mitigate any anticipated risks. Match the team member to the task based on skills, our team shared tasks because we felt there was an overlap of skills to each task. Having clear ownership and accountability of tasks will help your team stay focused and succeed.



‘Birdies For Breath’ Campaign Benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Inaugural ‘Birdies For Breath’ Event Benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Project Description:  Our team’s mission was to create a fun and cost-effective fundraising campaign to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Our goal was to raise as much money as possible and to help achieve that goal, we created three primary revenue drivers: 1) we hosted a mini-golf event, 2) we sold raffle tickets for a pair of Cubs tickets, and 3) we established an online donation site through GoFundMe.

Description of Charity Organization:  The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a national organization whose mission is to support all activities associated with finding a cure for the genetic disorder.  Such activities include coordinating/overseeing fundraising events, creating symptom/life management plans for people living with CF, host educational/awareness events, lead political advocacy efforts, etc.  Since its inception in 1955, the Foundation has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to help fund drug research and development and has created a national network of care centers to help extend the life expectancy of people living with CF.

Analysis of Results/Success Measures:  Given that we elected to pursue a monetary fundraising campaign, our goal was to raise as much money as possible over a 4-week period.  In order to help meet this objective, we strove to keep overhead costs as low as possible.  The nature of our revenue drivers were extremely low cost and we were able to secure a pair of donated Cubs tickets for our raffle. An overview of our revenue goals/results follows:

  • Mini-golf event – Fundraising goal of $600 / Actual amount raised $1,000
  • Raffle – Fundraising goal of $500 / Actual amount raised $2,330
  • GoFundMe site – Fundraising goal of $300 / Actual amount raised $1,100
  • Charitable Match – Not anticipated / Actual results of $2,730

All in all, we raised $6,460 of net proceeds against a goal of $1,000 and successfully achieved all of our success measures established at the beginning of the project.

Lessons learned:

  1. Great teams make all the difference – every team member approached the project with enthusiasm and excitement during the course of the campaign, making it really fun to work together!  Each member brought unique skills and great ideas to the table, which was crucial in creating such a successful project.
  2. A well thought out risk management plan is critical – Weather was a major concern for us heading into the day of our mini-golf event.  Fortunately, we had thought through the risks on the front end and created contingency plans.

Advice for future teams:

  • Find a cause that you are passionate about and create a project that fits in with your team’s personality.
  • Define team member roles early and establish/adhere to an agreed upon communication plan.
  • Don’t micromanage!  Trust your team members to accomplish their assigned tasks, but make sure that the team is providing regular updates so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Resist the urge to continually add to the project scope.

Event Pictures

Volunteer/Awareness Fair (Team Star)

Project Description

Team Star organized a Volunteer Fair for the employees of MB Financial. The event was held on July 11, 2017. It offered attendees information on different non-profit organizations and possible volunteer opportunities with participating organizations. In addition, it opened the possibility of increased awareness and involvement in the non-profit’s cause.

Charity Description – based on information from organization websites

    • American Red Cross: Red Cross volunteers provide disaster relief and emergency response services.
    • Northern Illinois Food Bank: NIFB wants to solve hunger in 13 counties in Northern Illinois by providing nutritious food and innovative feeding programs.
    • Special Leisure Services Foundation (SLSF), in tandem with Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA): Creating and providing greater options that enrich the life experiences for children and adults living with disabilities through recreation activities.
    • PAWS Chicago: PAWS is committed to building no kill shelter communities, reducing the overpopulation of homeless pets, and setting higher standards for animal treatment.
    • Tutoring Chicago: Tutoring Chicago provides free one-to-one tutoring and mentoring to economically disadvantaged children.
    • United Services Organization (USO): [Cancelled involvement 7/4/2017] Helping Military Service Members and their families keep connected throughout their military service.

Success Measures

As the goal of the event was to gain more awareness for multiple organizations, we found the best way to measure the success of the event would be to track how many organizations would participate, the number of attendees and the amount of people that signed up with each organization to volunteer. In addition, to understand whether the organizations and attendees felt that their involvement was useful, we used surveys to track how well the event was received.

Based on the short time frame and to give MB Employees a semblance of choice in organizations we limited our goal to 2 organizations. After contacting 8 organizations, we gained the interest of 6. Initially, we received confirmation from five organizations but one dropped out a week before the event. However, one of the organizations that was originally non-responsive agreed to do the event at short notice.

The main HQ of MB has a total of 1,045 employees stationed in the building. We used an estimate of approximately 10% (100 people; consideration given to absences and off-site business activities) attendance as our goal and base for other measures. At the end of the event we received 156 visitors.

Not knowing how to estimate a successful percentage of volunteer signups, we calculated this at 20% of the targeted attendees (i.e. 20 attendees). The total amount of sign ups was 60 (approx. 38.5% of attendees).

After receiving the feedback forms from the organizations, we hoped to find that the majority had found the event helped increase awareness and that they would attend a future volunteer event at MB. It was a unanimous success. The five participants stated that they believed the event increased awareness and they would all participate again. Some constructive feedback was to give more lead time and to increase promotion.

Feedback from attendees was received via an electronic survey sent via email to all of the attendees who entered the raffle, 128 individuals. Ongoing results are listed below (29 responses as of July 16, 2017):

We asked what interested the attendees about the event. The top three responses were:

  • Getting information regarding volunteer opportunities
  • Gaining information from multiple organizations
  • Learning about a specific charity that was participating

Attendees were further asked about whether they found a charity/organization that they wanted to learn more about. Of 29 individuals, 82.76% responded Yes.

In order to help learn and build from the experience, we wanted to give an open forum for input into how to better the experience and what attendees were looking for. The following information was found:

When asked what other type of charities/organizations/causes would you like to be included in future events? Some of the responses were as follows: women shelters/domestic violence services, cancer organizations, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and military and “support troops” organizations

In addition the following feedback was received:

  • Multiple responses about how nice the event was (e.g., lots of learning, well-organized, interesting organizations)
  • A few responses regarding disappointment around USO not being in attendance
  • Having MB volunteers with the organization leads host tables together

Overall, the responses were immensely positive and the feedback received was very constructive.

Lessons Learned

  1. Developing the WBS was essential to the process.
  2. Matching team members’ functions with skill sets helped bring about the success of the event.
  3. Regular meetings and touch points kept the team on track and the event moving.
  4. Creating contingencies to mitigate any potential risk saved problems from happening.
  5. Finding a means of communicating deliverables to the whole team in real time without the confusion of everyone using a separate method was very helpful. We utilized a Sharepoint site.

Advice to other teams

  1. Planning is critical, consider risks and develop contingencies.
  2. Be flexible and willing to adapt.
  3. Trust Your Teammate. They may surprise you.
  4. Take care of your Stakeholders.




Team 1 – Spend or Save?

Team 1 developed and launched a new financial literacy game for elementary age children primarily aged 6 to 9.  MB Financial Bank is often asked for volunteers to provide introductory financial literacy training; therefore, we decided to focus our efforts in this space. We scanned the bank’s current training materials and decided the perfect supplement would be a board game and curriculum for young children.  Our curriculum and game sought to help children decipher between needs and wants as well as maintain the very basics of personal finance (sources of money and the importance of saving money).

Our hope was to not only have a direct impact on kids, through playing the game and teaching them ourselves, but to also leave a legacy behind for continuous impact.  To do this, we left our board game and curriculum with teachers.  We thought that a board game would be the perfect way to not only engage children and accomplish our first goal, but also an easy way to document teachings for future use and accomplish our second goal.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”               – Maimonides

By the end of the course, we were able to meet or exceed all of our project goals.

  1. We played the game and taught 24 kids, above our goal of getting the game in front of 20 kids.
  2. We held at least two events for kids from different groups, meeting our goal.
    • Event 1 – Music House (local nonprofit organization): Our team was able to teach to Music House’s summer camp students at the Humboldt Park location.  The camp students were between the ages of 6 to 12.
    • Event 2 – At our second event, our team was able to teach kids from the Yorkfield Presbyterian Church in Elmhurst. The members were between the ages of 5 to 12.
  3. We provided the game and curriculum to two teachers, in line with our original goal.
  4. We provided the game and curriculum to MB Financial for further development.

Above all else, we learned that the planning portion in project management is very important.  Our team was so worried about the short timeframe we had to complete the project that we started purchasing materials for the game right away.  We could have benefited from doing some basic project planning before starting by at least setting a budget and estimating what we might need first.  As a result, we ended up with a lot of unused materials in the trash – though not the worst mistake, given that it only cost us $30!  Additionally, we learned that worrying about scope creep too much can actually have an adverse impact than what it is infamous for.  For the board game, we limited ourselves a bit too much in setting our scope too tight.  We tried to define the target market for the board game too definitively and ended with a larger age range/target market based on the versatility of the game.  Though we are happy with the number of children we were able to get our game in front of, limiting ourselves to a tight age group likely forced us to miss out on getting this game in front of even more!

Advice for future teams doing similar projects would be to set a detailed schedule with deliverables from the start!  Having a plan makes everything run smoother and helps meet deadlines.  It also eliminates any confusion.  A more specific piece of advice if you have a final product you are leaving behind, make sure you have the chance to get it in front of as many people as possible.  Professor Cook was nice enough to let us use 15 minutes of the class to test out the game on our classmates and receive feedback.  Without this feedback we would have missed out on some critical changes to the game (i.e. setting the tiebreaker….  how did we not think of that!).  Also, use Trello!  It is an awesome workflow management app where you can assign tasks to team members and make due dates. With an intricate project like a board game, it would have been next to impossible to coordinate/keep track of everything and make sure things were done leading up one of the eight dry-run games we held before our two events.

Last but not least, make it fun. We had a blast!

Chicago’s Common Pantry Food+ Drive [Team: $]

Project Description:

Our team hosted a food and personal care item drive from 6/28/17 – 7/7/2017 at selected MB Financial Bank branches to support Chicago’s Common Pantry.  Based on a list provided by Common Pantry, the food drive focused on collecting non-perishable food items such as canned foods, easy prep meals, and condiments along with personal care items such as shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant.

Once the food drive concluded, Common Pantry will use the contributions to serve individuals and families from the community they serve in need of food and personal care items.

Common Pantry

Common Pantry, was founded in 1967 to combat hunger and food insecurity in specific northern neighborhoods of Chicago. Common Pantry is dedicated to eliminating hunger and food insecurity in our community by providing access to food and by addressing the root causes of poverty. We rely entirely on the generosity of private donors.  Click on the title of this section for more info on Common Pantry.

Goals and Objectives:

  • Our main objective was to collect as much food and personal items from the “needs list” of our charity, Chicago’s Common Pantry.
  • We had to determine the logistics and scope of our project to be completed in a feasible time frame given that we had a little less than 5 weeks to complete it from conception to the end.
  • Bring awareness to a great not-for-profit organization that helps the community in which it resides in, the north side of Chicago.


We had 14 points of collection and had a solid turnout at most of those locations resulting in the accumulation of 8 full-sized (large) boxes with an estimated value of $250.00 per box totaling around $2,000.00 in goods for Common Pantry to distribute to families in need.  A rough estimate of almost 1,000 items ranging from toothbrushes, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, to pasta, peanut butter, and lots more food and personal care items were collected in the week and a half drive.

Lessons Learned & Advice for Future Teams Doing Similar Projects:

  • Don’t underestimate small potential problems that could affect the outcome of the project. i.e.: In our case, 14 huge boxes are hard to distribute from a small vehicle (even when the boxes are not yet fully assembled!)
  • Large collection boxes get real heavy, real fast!  They also need to travel to their final destination once they are filled-up.
  • Try and arrange a pick-up ahead of time from the charity that you are working with.
  • Always remember that this is all for a great cause!
  • COMMUNICATION IS KEY!!!  Not only between your teammates, but also your stakeholders and extended help.
  • Thank everyone that helped out, whenever possible. 

Event Flyer & Pictures: