At Compass Philly Project Launch, Biz Grad Meets Nonprofit - Generocity Philly

Oct. 13, 2014 1:06 pm

At Compass Philly Project Launch, Biz Grad Meets Nonprofit

It was an exercise in matchmaking for 100 or so business school grads, who sized up the opportunity to lend strategic consulting to nine local nonprofits at Compass Philadelphia’s project launch last week. Compass, an organization that connects MBAs and other professionals with pro bono consulting work, expanded to the Philadelphia area last year. An […]

It was an exercise in matchmaking for 100 or so business school grads, who sized up the opportunity to lend strategic consulting to nine local nonprofits at Compass Philadelphia’s project launch last week.

Compass, an organization that connects MBAs and other professionals with pro bono consulting work, expanded to the Philadelphia area last year. An application process over the summer selected the nonprofit clients who would receive free consulting services.

At the event, which appeared similar to speed dating, clients hovered over their tables, awaiting the prospective volunteers who would soon stream through the doors.

One of them was Natira Bullock, 30, a graduate of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, who was attending with her husband, James. Bullock had participated in direct-service volunteer work in the past — tutoring GED students, for example — but never before had she flexed her business skills for the greater good.

“I thought it was a great way to give back,” she said. As a native New Yorker, Bullock was not familiar with many of the nonprofit clients, but said she would gravitate toward the ones “working with people in their neighborhoods.”

Since it was established here in 2013, Compass has more than doubled its capacity, noted Beth Dahle, who directs the Philadelphia chapter.

“I’m stunned by the outpouring of interest,” she said. Dahle focused early recruiting efforts on partner business school clubs, and on the morning after the launch event, more than 89 volunteers had already completed the online application. Roughly half will get placed on a consulting team. Others will make up a waiting list.

Guided by two project leaders, each team works with their nonprofit client from October through May, making final recommendations in the spring. Services are free, but the average project value is estimated at $130,000, according to Dahle.

For David Bringham, the president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, known as PAFA, the anticipated gains were more than monetary.

“We’re getting objective experts to look at how we can grow and improve and make good strategic decisions,” he said.

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PAFA will receive a team to assess marketing efforts, generating strategies to help the 209-year-old school increase enrollment in its degree-granting programs, all of which are concentrated in the fine arts.

“We hope to challenge our assumptions and come up with concrete plans for marketing and program development,” Bringham said.

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