This is the second of two essays in my successful application to Harvard Business School’s highly competitive 2016 Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP).
The hall housing three different DeCal Committees was packed, bursting at the seams. As the President began his announcement, Fundraising’s Director stood up and left, unceremoniously resigning. Ten inexperienced Fundraising Interns stared in his wake, completely at a loss. An eery quietness cloaked the hall, tightening my chest with discomfort at the uncertainty ahead. Gathering my wits, it struck me: this was my chance to turn a disaster into something meaningful.
I plunged into a comprehensive analysis of the Board’s structural faults, determined to figure out everything Fundraising could do differently. Drafting a Constitution for the Board, I outlined its biggest values and goals, realizing effective leadership would be impossible without a purpose beyond solvency. We put our heads together in an emergency Fundraising meeting, struggling to discover a cause we all cared deeply about. Our debate triggered my recent memories of how a malnourished homeless man crossed the street, and in a split second, a car had zoomed forward, sending his body skidding across the sidewalk. The blood pooled around his head. He murmured softly, dying as he waited for an ambulance.
Unable to shake the images from my mind, I began researching groups who provided medical care to the homeless. This led me straight to a student-run organization called the Suitcase Clinic, which aids the homeless in getting medical supplies and emergency care by volunteer physicians. Once I told the Clinic’s leaders of the man who died waiting for urgent care, they agreed DeCal could definitely help expand their efforts by raising more funding.
This interaction with the Clinic empowered me to bring the issue of Berkeley’s exponential growth in homelessness to my Committee. Unanimously, my team embraced the cause, ready to fundraise for the Suitcase Clinic.
Together, in four fundraisers, we combined food with music, dance, and culture. The UC Choral Ensembles gladly performed, drawing big crowds who bought tickets to attend our locally-catered event. In addition, my team and I hosted a banquet with student performances of authentic cultural dances. In order to ensure our events ran smoothly, I organized the Purchase Orders (POs), food permits, and professionally-printed banners.
As a result, I was incredibly proud that my Committee was able to raise nearly $800, directly extending the Clinic’s checkups from one to three times a week. It was phenomenal to witness how our efforts, combined with the generosity of local medical students, truly paid off in such a fulfilling way.
No matter how nervous we all felt that fateful day, my team trusted my ability to pioneer new fundraisers and become DeCal’s first female Fundraising Director. As Nietzsche once said, “You must have chaos to give birth to a dancing star”. DeCal’s initial chaos gave me the creative freedom necessary to redefine the Committee, its goals, and my own vision for the future. My next goal is to combine social responsibility and technology to create the first crowdfunding app for organizations helping homeless, because social responsibility is good for business.