Fisher Property News

Free Advice Can Be Better Than Cash for Many NonProfits

NonProfit gets planning aid as Marco Bitran and Chuck Eisenberg were accountable for reviewing the organizations effectiveness and plans for housing acquisition and expansion.


Brookline, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/25/2012 -- When Mark Alston-Follansbee, executive director with the Somerville Homeless Coalition in Somerville, Massachusetts, needed advice on how to make the nonprofit much more cost-effective, he may perhaps have considered attending business school. But he didn’t need to. Harvard Business University came to him in the form of alumni who've helped him create a whole new strategic approach and refocus his endeavours for much better effect.

Marco Bitran and Chuck Eisenberg were accountable for reviewing the agencies effectiveness and plans for housing acquisition and development.

The alumni came courtesy from the Community Action Partners (CAP) program organized through the HBS Association of Boston. Through CAP, alumni work in teams of 4 to six through several months to give Boston-area nonprofits with organizational growth, promotion, financial planning, and general management consulting services — all free of charge.

“The 5 CAP volunteers assessed our agency carefully and gave me the type of feedback I hadn’t acquired before,” says Alston-Follansbee. “They helped us understand that what we do best is offer services once clients move into permanent housing, so we’ve shifted our concentration.”

The CAP technique was established by the Boston HBS association in 1993 and has since served more than 150 nonprofits with a variety of missions, such as the environment, education and learning, housing, health care, along with the arts, says CAP cochair Barry Horwitz (MBA ’88), an independent process and marketing and advertising consultant. In that time, nearly 550 CAP volunteers have donated nearly $7 million in consulting services. This year alone, fourteen teams of HBS alumni will donate an estimated $1.1 million in solutions.

Within the San Francisco Bay Region, the HBS Association of Northern California (HBSA/NC) has been providing free of charge consulting solutions to nonprofits since 1986. It was also the inspiration for other HBS clubs nationwide to start comparable programs. The Bay Area Community Partners program is now some of the largest nonprofit service providers in the San Francisco region, having served greater than 250 nonprofits and furnishing consulting services valueed around $1.5 million annually, says HBSA/NC president Sean Jacobsohn (MBA ’98).

Nonprofits across the nation are under increasing strain to professionalize their operations and sharpen their administration expertise. That’s exactly where the CAP program comes in, says Horwitz. HBS alumni in Boston are right now operating together with the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence to develop a long-term plan and a advertising system to turn the grassroots business right into a international force for change in the Asian community. They’re also supporting the Lena Park Community Development Corporation, which provides housing and human services for inner-city residents, to create a business plan for its new initiative to establish a multiservice residential community. And they are offering support on financial planning, advertising, and benchmarking to an art museum, a local YMCA, and a philanthropic agency.