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UBC Sauder Master of Management students help environmental non-profit compete for funding

When you're a not-profit organization, every dollar counts. In British Columbia alone, more than 20,000 organizations compete for a limited amount of funding and resources. UBC Master of Management (MM) student Mark Harrold relished the opportunity to work in this fiercely competitive field for his Community Business Project.

Harrold was one of four students asked to develop a fundraising plan for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society British Columbia Chapter (CPAWS-BC), a non-profit conservation organization that aims to protect B.C.’s parks, oceans and ecosystems. The project was part of the UBC Sauder School of Business's Community Business Project, a six-month volunteer initiative where MM students help local organizations with socially and environmentally-enhancing projects.

For the second year in a row, CPAWS-BC partnered with UBC Sauder and Master of Management students, this year to address the issue of fundraising in a competitive market. The students researched a range of industries to identify companies that CPAWS-BC could approach for funding, explored possible grant options and analysed their relative position in the non-profit sector.

Making an impact

"We are currently using the results from the project to develop a strategy to get new sources of corporate funding," says Jackie Peat, Development and Communications Coordinator at CPAWS-BC. "The students' research has given us insight into what industries and companies to target for potential funding and sponsorship opportunities and how best to do it.

"One recommendation made by the team, which we would like to integrate into our strategy, is to demonstrate CPAWS' multifaceted approach to environmental conservation by highlighting the number of community and educational outreach programs that we offer as well as their track records of success."

Practical focus

The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis Harrold learned about in a strategy class during the MM program proved to be essential to their report.

“That was a fantastic class and it’s always great when you get to apply what you learned in school in real-world situations,” he says.

“We’ve been involved with the MM program at UBC Sauder for two years now and our executive director and board of directors have been hugely impressed with the work the students have been doing,” says Peat. “They are incredibly hard-working and they bring a level of professionalism to the job that is as good as or even better than some of the contractors we hire. Having them join our team and bring that added capacity is incredible.”

“From the beginning we could see that these weren’t cookie cutter students doing things out of a textbook,” she adds. “They brought all their diverse experience and skills to this project and that really strengthened the overall outcome.”

Making connections

With a degree in Engineering from UBC Okanagan, Harrold is hoping to land a job as a project coordinator after graduation and says that his management experience from UBC Sauder and the work he has done for CPAWS-BC will stand him in good stead.

“I learned so much about the non-profit sector,” says Harrold. “It’s so much more competitive than I had thought. There are thousands of groups looking to attract support and only a limited amount of funding. It takes a lot of hard work and industry knowledge to get an edge.”

As for CPAWS-BC, Peat is confident that the organization will continue to be involved with UBC Sauder and urges other students to follow Mark’s example.

“My advice to future students is to get involved as much as possible,” she says. “We’re happy to make connections and give back so it’s great to make this a partnership that everybody can benefit from.”