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CASE STUDY 1 A Not-for-Profit Medical Research Center

You are Alexis, the director of external affairs for a national not-for-profit medical
research center that does research on diseases related to aging. The center’s work
depends on funding from multiple sources, including the general public, individual
estates, and grants from corporations, foundations, and the federal government.
Your department prepares an annual report of the center’s accomplishments
and financial status for the board of directors. It is mostly text with a few charts
and tables, all black and white, with a simple cover. It is voluminous and pretty
dry reading. It is inexpensive to produce other than the effort to pull together the
content, which requires time to request and expedite information from the center’s other
At the last board meeting, the board members suggested the annual report be
“upscaled”into a document that could be used for marketing and promotional
purposes. They want you to mail the next annual report to the center’s various
stakeholders, past donors, and targeted high-potential future donors. The board
feels that such a document is needed to get the center“in the same league”with
other large not-for-profit organizations with which it feels it competes for donations and funds.
The board feels that the annual report could be used to inform
these stakeholders about the advances the center is making in its research efforts
and its strong fiscal management for effectively using the funding and donations
it receives.
You will need to produce a shorter, simpler, easy-to-read annual report that
shows the benefits of the center’s research and the impact on people’s lives. You
will include pictures from various hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities
that are using the results of the center’s research. You also will include testimonials from patients
and families who have benefited from the center’s research.
The report must be“eye-catching.”It needs to be multicolor, contain a lot of
pictures and easy-to-understand graphics, and be written in a style that can be
understood by the average adult potential donor.
This is a significant undertaking for your department, which includes three
other staff members. You will have to contract out some of the activities and
may have to travel to several medical facilities around the country to take
photos and get testimonials. You will also need to put the design, printing,
and distribution out to bid to various contractors to submit proposals and
prices to you. You estimate that approximately 5 million copies need to be
printed and mailed.
It is now April 1. The board asks you to come to its next meeting on May 15
to present a detailed plan, schedule, and budget for how you will complete the
project. The board wants the annual report“in the mail”by November 15, so
potential donors will receive it around the holiday season when they may be in
a“giving mood.”The center’s fiscal year ends September 30, and its financial
statements should be available by October 15. However, the nonfinancial information for the
report can start to be pulled together right after the May 15 board
Fortunately, you are taking a project management course in the evenings at
the local university and see this as an opportunity to apply what you have
been learning. You know that this is a big project and that the board has
high expectations. You want to be sure you meet their expectations, and get
them to approve the budget that you will need for this project. However,
they will only do that if they are confident that you have a detailed plan for
how you will get it all done. You and your staff have six weeks to prepare
a plan to present to the board on May 15. If approved, you will have six
months, from May 15 to November 15, to implement the plan and complete
the project.
Your staff consists of Grace, a marketing specialist; Levi, a writer/editor; and
Lakysha, a staff assistant whose hobby is photography (she is going to college
part-time in the evenings to earn a degree in photojournalism, and has won several local
photography contests).

Gido, Jack; Clements, James P. (2014-02-05). Successful Project Management (Page 136).
Cengage Learning. Kindle Edition.

Siri Maley
Chapter 8: Case Study 1. Questions 1-4.
1. What would you recommend for the next possible steps?
They’re in the initiating phase of their project, which means they need to work towards a
project charter. This requires brainstorming and discussing both project (the actual
fundraiser) ideas and selection criteria. The CFS should then agree on criteria and
subsequently assess their ideas based on them to pick a specific fundraiser. (This process
should be based on its own decision-making bylaws.)
From here, they need something that serves as a project charter. Most of the committee’s
work will be in these areas: objective and funding (exactly how much money they’re
realistically looking to raise and spend), major deliverables and milestone schedule, key
assumptions and constraints, and major risks. (They also need to understand reporting and
responsibility structures, but hopefully this is standardized already in CFS.)
After that, the planning committee needs to elaborate on this basic, CFS-approved document
by developing a baseline plan. They’ll need many of the standard project management tools,
e.g. scope document, activity schedule (e.g. WBS/RAM into Gantt/network diagram),
budget/resource estimates, risk assessment matrix. However, I’d start this process by
benchmarking previous fundraisers like the one they’re planning. Presumably they did some
of this in brainstorming and the discussing a specific event, but more in depth work will help
answer a lot of the questions. I’d use this research to inform their risk assessment matrix,
since they seem very inexperienced in these sorts of events.
They also need to think ahead to the logistics of their planning phase. They don’t appear to
be a particularly experienced or fully active organization, so I’d be worried about, e.g. people
taking on responsibilities and then not showing up to meetings, like 3/8 of their organization
just didn’t). They need some way to ensure communication and accountability and to
document progress unambiguously.

2. Identify three potential projects to raise funds for the hospital pediatric intensive care unit.
Well, apparently they don’t like canning. Another popular option is a 5K race. This is
relatively low-resource. You need a course and the staff, likely university police and parking,
to handle it, which they’re probably used to doing. You also need advertising, bibs and
registration materials, and potentially prizes. You need ancillary facilities, like registration
tables (and staff, etc), EMT stations, possible water stations, and a finish line/press area.
There are some other major resources required for a competitive run, but we’ll assume this
one isn’t. I believe one of the THON 5K I ran raised $2,000.
Another option is a charity concert. Major resources here include performers,
security/ushers/ticket people/stagehands/EMTs, facility (indoor or outdoor, depending) with
stage and sound/light systems, sponsors, and advertising/sales methods. (Of course, all these
options are a lot more complicated than is overviewed here.) Benefit concerts can raise a lot
of money, but given how new they are to this, I’d aim low. Maybe $20,000?
Back on the easier/smaller side, greek orgs often run their own dinner fundraisers, e.g. by
selling pasta dinner tickets. For a full Hellenic council, this could be significantly bigger,
maybe a themed dinner dance. Again you need the facility and the staff (above), plus
preferably sponsored catering, and advertising/sales methods. Again, the funds raiser depend
largely on the scope, but for a 24-person CFS with only 15 people at a meeting, maybe
estimate $5,000—but again they’d need a lot of research.

3. Select one of the three projects and identify four risks that could jeopardize the success of the
For the 5K fundraiser, common risks include runner injury, rain, and low sales. An additional
risk for many volunteer-run activities is people not completing assigned work (correctly, on
time, or at all, etc).

4. Develop a response plan for how each of the four risks can be either avoided or mitigated.
The risk of runner injury must be accepted in any race. The runners except this in waivers
they sign. These waivers are a mitigation strategy for the organizers, not in terms of
preventing injury but in terms of preventing some fallout. Additionally, the risk response
plan should include EMT stations throughout the race course at intervals set by the EMT
company. (They may also suggest additional observers and/or set standards for water
stations, etc.)
The risk of rain likely also needs to be accepted. (Theoretically, you could do this inside, but
renting a suitable facility is expensive.) It can be mitigated slightly by setting the date in a
historically drier period, depending on your location. However, you should also set, advertise
and plan for a rain date. A response plan should be set and publicized in terms of when and
under what conditions the race will be rescheduled, and how notification will work.
Low sales, i.e. not actually raising (your projected) funds, can be mitigated with good pre-
planning. You should research how many runners register for what prices in different races,
and adjust for things like university/town size, conflicting events (which you should try to
avoid), activeness of the campus in fitness and charity events, etc. Determine your likely
sales range and use it to set your budget. Don’t exceed your budget. Additionally, it’s best to
get sponsors for an event, which both significantly raises revenue and provides a cushion in
terms of sales and budget. Finally, since slots are pre-sold, you can and should track your
sales pace. Set a triggering event—or more likely a series of them indicating more severe
shortfalls—and decide what corrective action you’ll take at each. Will you increase
advertising? Lower the price? Add incentives (e.g. make it a color run, bring in side shows)?
The risk of volunteer dereliction can be mitigated by vetting/interviewing key volunteers and
setting real consequences for abdication. These needn’t be tangible to be real: if everyone
knows that both their own org and CFS will notices and remember that you let them down,
and that it will reflect on your org, you’ll be less likely to do so. On the brighter side, it’s also
of course up to the leadership to communicate and make create a positive organizational
culture in which people feel that can, should, and will succeed and understand their
importance to the mission. Triggering events should be agreed up and shared, so that
everyone knows what constitutes underperformance. Response plans will likely vary by sub-
group—e.g. understudies, scope decreasing, resource reallocation—but should be set early in
the planning process.