Steven Troy (MBA ‘13) smiled like a kid as he walked around the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old thought the spinning contraptions and interactive displays in the exhibition called “Wheels” looked like “a blast” for kids.
He and four other Tepper School of Business students toured the exhibit so they could offer the North Side museum advice on how to increase the rental of exhibits to other museums.
Their report was one of the student-led projects of Pro Bono Consulting, a program administered jointly by the Consulting Club and Net Impact chapter at the Tepper School of Business that allows students to put their business knowledge to use in benefiting community organizations.
During the Spring 2012 semester, 55 students, mostly first year MBAs, provided assistance for 11 community-oriented projects. The five-person teams developed such strong bonds with the eight participating community organizations that many of the projects will continue throughout the year, according to Alanna Houck (MBA ‘13), chapter president of Net Impact, which recently earned a prestigious Gold Chapter rating from the international non-profit (parent) organization.
“Students did everything from develop training manuals to new cost allocation methods to marketing plans,” Houck said.
After research that included studying other museums, the Tepper School team proposed actions for the Children’s Museum to increase the revenue opportunities of its traveling exhibit programs. They suggested streamlining Web links to the exhibits, adding a comments section for exhibition visitors and targeting its marketing efforts to potential customers.
“We felt the traveling exhibit market was untapped,” Troy said. “It is awesome stuff and it was enjoyable working with the museum staff, which was very receptive to new ideas.”
For Amirtha Raman (MBA ‘13), it was equally fulfilling to work with The Education Partnership (TEP), which provides school and classroom supplies to eligible schools. Raman and her teammates offered social media strategies to the nonprofit.
“We studied what other nonprofits were doing,” she said. “We offered advice for their staff in connecting with potential donors via Facebook and Twitter and blogging activities to capture a wider audience.”
They also recommended posting multi-media videos of children who have been helped by TEP. In addition to creating actions for a social media strategy, the students also developed measures to track their effectiveness – maintaining an awareness of how many people are actively commenting and if the social conversations are being shared.
She and other team members received the ultimate reward: the nonprofit has already begun implementation of some of their ideas.
“We want to make sure we use the skills and knowledge that we have gained through the Tepper School in a useful way for our community,” Raman said. “Of course, we also learned a lot in the process.”
Peter Amendola (MBA ‘13) and his teammates worked with the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden on developing a marketing campaign for the inaugural opening of a garden, planned for October 2012. He and his team advised the group to increase public awareness by posting more frequently to its Web site, offering volunteer opportunities during the week and providing their membership with promotional materials.
Their collaboration and planning was so successful that the garden was chosen as a site for the Tepper School’s 2012 BaseCamp Community Service Project, where students get to use their physical muscle to help prepare the garden for its public opening.
Amendola enjoyed using his Tepper skills to help a cause he believes in. He added that, “The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is a great attraction where people can come and learn and play. It is good for the whole community.”