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Irony-free: Non-profit Consulting

Posted January 20, 2014 in News
SOURCE Volunteer Day

By Xiangyu Ma ’17

Students expressing wild, unadulterated affection for their student organization is hardly a rare undocumented phenomenon. What is considerably rarer though, is the sort of genuine, unaffected love and pride – unanimous at that – SOURCE employees tend to exude when speaking of the group. Their sincerity is infectious; they clearly love the organization they belong to. The natural question to ask is why?

Founded in 2005, SOURCE is a student-run non-profit consulting group that functions under the aegis of the Kravis Leadership Institute. SOURCE was born out of a great little idea from a KLI business competition and has since grown to become one of CMC’s most vibrant and exciting organizations. SOURCE currently has 32 student employees.

The range of non-profits that SOURCE works and has worked with run the gamut. They include groups such as Shoes That Fit, a non-profit that provides shoes for underprivileged children all over the country, the Claremont After-School Programs Inc. (CLASP), and the Claremont Museum of Art.

SOURCE is working with 6 non-profits in the Claremont area at present. It is also working with one client from the Claremont Colleges community, the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company.

SOURCE signs rolling one-year contracts with their non-profit clients. According to Jasmine DiLucci ’14, one of SOURCE’s two managers this year, SOURCE produces a statement of work at the beginning of each work year, agreeing with its clients on certain deliverables due at the end of the year. If, come the end of the year, both parties find themselves profiting then the partnership continues.

As consultants to non-profits with a wide-range of differing needs, SOURCE employees find their responsibilities changing on an ad-hoc basis. “What we do mostly depends on what the client wants,” said Alice Chang ’15, the other of SOURCE’s managers. For instance, Shoes That Fit wants SOURCE to help develop a model to quantify their impact for their Star Navigator rating (a non-profit rating), whereas the Claremont Museum of Art requires SOURCE assistance for grant writing.

SOURCE, DiLucci said, gives its non-profit clients access to key resources such as regression & impact analyses, or advertising & fund-raising consulting, that they would otherwise be unable to afford. SOURCE’s work yields tangible results. SOURCE earned more than $21,000 in grant money for the Claremont Museum of Arts ; and when SOURCE and CLASP parted ways it was only after leaving the nonprofit with an automated regression analyses system in place.

“We’re making a big impact on the community and we offer our services for free,” Chang said.

SOURCE is entirely student-run. This is, according to the SOURCE managers, the other part of what makes SOURCE such a valuable organization. Students run the entire proverbial show here. “SOURCE has really embodied KLI’s mission to give resources to students to be leaders. We do get mentorship at SOURCE but ultimately we take full responsibility as students for our peers and colleagues,” said Chang.

DiLucci described SOURCE’s mission as two-pronged. SOURCE is as dedicated towards the personal and leadership development of its student consultants as it is to the business of its non-profit clients.

“SOURCE gave me the leadership experience that I wanted,” DiLucci said. “It has come to define my CMC experience.” Chang felt the same. “I have learned more at SOURCE than I ever have in previous leadership roles. The job calls for a lot of commitment and responsibility. Our ideas come into fruition the way we want them to, and we need to make sure we are accountable and act upon our ideas.”

These sentiments extend through SOURCE’s ranks. Sarah Linssen ’16, a lead consultant with SOURCE, was effusive with regards to what she had learned from SOURCE. “It’s been incredible. It’s a really great experience because you get to work on a wide breadth of projects. I’ve learned a lot about surveying; I’ve learned about grant writing. We have a bunch of really fun workshops, social events.” Ellis Simani ’17, a freshman analyst new to SOURCE, said that even across his brief time in the group it has been obvious to him just how unique an opportunity SOURCE is. “You’re not just stuck in one position here. Although I was hired as an analyst I have had this really cool opportunity to work with marketing. And if I want to, I can go into another position and try a lot of different things.”

SOURCE has come a long way since its inception in 2005. Its two managers, DiLucci and Chang, said that SOURCE, as with every young organization, has had its share of growing pains, but has since overcome them. “SOURCE has changed a lot, really quickly,” DiLucci said. “Everything has changed for the better. People are more involved, and they care more. It really is a team now. Every level of SOURCE has really grown, from the managers to the lead consultants.”

The pursuit of improvement never ceases either. Chang said that SOURCE is working hard on creating and then institutionalizing its methodology. “We are developing our SOURCE way of approaching a problem. We are planning workshops and talks with different companies.” SOURCE, she said, also wants to expand its outreach in Claremont. “We want to get more people to know about what SOURCE is because this is such a great organization.”

“We’ve a very broad exposure on campus but as not as much as I’d like in the Claremont community. We want non-profits here to hear our name more because only then will we be able to maximize our impact.”