NU students consult for Chicago-area non-profits

Amanda Laabs

Business-minded Northwestern students are reaching out to struggling non-profits.

Students Consulting for Non-Profit Organizations offers quarter-long consulting projects to help Chicago-area charities, said Ankur Sisodia, a co-founder of the group and current executive vice president.

“This is really a chance for Northwestern students to take volunteering to the next level,” the McCormick junior said.

Starting last winter, the student-run group received 25 applications and chose four non-profits, said Sujan Doshi, the group’s project manager. The group supervises and manages each project, which includes helping the organizations redesign their Web sites, create new logos, reorganize databases and put together more effective marketing campaigns.

“We saw huge interest from the non-profit community,” the Weinberg junior said. “It validated that there’s a real need for this.”

The group offers students who are interested in consulting and social entrepreneurship the challenge of an unusual method of measuring success, Doshi said.

Interest in social entrepreneurship has been increasing – especially since President Barack Obama created the new Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, said Molly Day, SESP ’07, the co-founder of a non-profit consulting service.

“Social entrepreneurship is a way to not only build capacity but show students the exciting ways in which business and non-profit are working together,” she said.

Student interest in social entrepreneurship in particular has been increasing in the last few decades with the rise of organizations such as Teach For America and AmeriCorps, said Robert Donahue, the associate director of NU’s Center for Civic Engagement.

“More and more, these movements are coming from young people out of college,” he said.

Non-profits are always looking for extra help in these economic times, said Donahue, the founder and former director of the Civic Education Project.

“Anytime you can bring student energy to help, it’s a good thing,” he said.

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