A Dwight Hall workshop held Tuesday evening brought together two often distant worlds by showing students interested in nonprofit work how corporate consulting can assist nonprofits in reaching their goals.
Titled “Measuring What Matters in Nonprofits,” the session, organized by McKinsey & Company consulting group and attended by almost 50 students, sought to provide methods of improving the effectiveness of students’ own campus organizations. Company representatives participating in the workshop explained how nonprofit groups can benefit from collaboration with consulting firms.
Brian Goldman ’05, a former co-coordinator of Dwight Hall who had been active in Community Health Educators and FOCUS at Yale before going to work as a business analyst at McKinsey, said the experience was very personally exciting.
“I saw a lot of resources [at McKinsey] for nonprofit management, and now I get to take those resources and share them with students,” he said.
Dwight Hall Program Director Johnny Scafidi ’01 said the workshop was the first of its kind.
“We’ve never had a professional face for this type of event,” he said. “This is the first firm to offer its time to us, and it lends more clout to an incredibly valuable topic.”
Students said they attended the event for a variety of reasons, though most sought direct advice for activism at Yale.
Henry Corrison-Gibbs ’10 said he had gained an understanding of how nonprofits function through his involvement with Web design volunteering in schools but that he was curious to obtain a new perspective.
“I wanted to know how a consulting firm related to [a nonprofit],” he said.
Norie Pride ’08, co-president of the Black Student Alliance at Yale, said she hoped the session would help her think of concrete ways to improve BSAY.
“The primary reason why I’m here is that I want to learn ways to manage [BSAY] better, run it better,” Pride said. “But I also might be interested in nonprofit management.”
Mark Berenson, a public sector fellow for McKinsey, said the company provided students with advice similar to that given to its corporate and multinational clients. Berenson told students he was glad they had all come to the workshop before the problems they faced became larger.
“I was recently giving this same presentation, content-wise, to the World Bank,” he said.
Dwight Hall In-reach Coordinator Jessica Bialecki ’08 said she hoped the workshop would fulfill the needs of all Dwight Hall student groups.
“Tonight provides a great service [because] although we encourage [student] groups to evaluate themselves, something that doesn’t always happen with nonprofits is a rigorous evaluation process,” she said.
The workshop was divided into two parts. Berenson and Reid Bolton, another McKinsey public sector fellow, provided a brief overview presentation of strategies for judging whether organizations are meeting their stated goals.
Bolton presented various options for groups wishing to evaluate their performance and said that the appropriate method for each group should depend on its resources and mission statement.
“The first is to cut down on what you want to do, but that probably isn’t something you want to do,” Bolton said. “A second is to invest heavily in statistical analysis. The last [option] is to pick a proxy activity and then assume those results scale up to the whole project.”
Goldman said McKinsey runs 150-200 projects for nonprofits each year and that these projects help organizations with the “strategic planning process.”
“We look at their missions, their visions, their short term goals — where they want to be in five years — and also longer term goals.”
Jing Cao ’10 said she senses that more nonprofits were turning to consulting firms for answers.
“I feel that this is a trend that is becoming more popular,” she said. “More nonprofits think that by adopting corporate strategies they can become more effective at realizing change most efficiently.”