Students consult for local nonprofits through SCNO
Christopher Parker | Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Going on its fourth year connecting Notre Dame students to local charity work, the University’s chapter of Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations (SCNO) met Tuesday night to present this semester’s projects.
SCNO is a group that seeks to elevate nonprofits by “empowering talented students with knowledge, training and hands-on consulting experience,” according to the club’s website.
President senior Alex Muck said nonprofits partner with SCNO through several different outlets. (Editor’s Note: Muck is a news writer at The Observer)
In the past, the club sought out projects through connections on campus such as the club’s faculty advisor, professor Mike Manner, or the Center for Social Concerns. Recently, however, local nonprofits themselves have reached out.
“One partner that we’re hopefully working with next semester actually found us at the [Student Activities Office] Activities fair,” Muck said.
Students involved in the club form small teams and focus their efforts towards one nonprofit’s individualized needs. Junior Kieran O’Neill joined the club last year as a team member. This semester, he stepped into the role of group leader.
“We have a team of about five other students, and we’re working with ‘Ready to Grow,’” O’Neill said. “… They’re a small nonprofit that is working towards ensuring that all children in St. Joseph County, from birth until eight years old, can thrive. They focus on early learning, health and wellness and family support.”
O’Neill said his team assists ‘Ready to Grow’ in securing funding from donors, which ranges a local social entrepreneurship startup called Invanti as well as large corporate sponsors such as Meijer.
“We are working with them to focus on the development of an institutional membership program, by identifying potential partners, partnership plans and establishing them as a desirable partner,” O’Neill said.
Bridget Callaghan, a senior and co-vice president of human resources, said in an email larger club meetings like Tuesday’s bring together all of these individual teams.
“We have full club meetings about once a month where we either discuss the projects the teams are working on or we have a professor or club alumni talk to the group about different consulting projects or general career advice,” Callaghan said.
SCNO groups take on new projects with different nonprofits each semester. Muck said the club will expand from five projects to six this upcoming semester.
Club members indicate their interest in certain nonprofit categories and then receive an assignment to one of the club’s partners for that semester. O’Neill said a critical part of the process is matching the right nonprofit with the right team to generate a working relationship.
“They assign team leaders to different clients based on preference or experience or some mixture of the two,” he said. “Probably one of the most important things about the club is just getting people who are engaged. There have been times in the past where the partner, the client, hasn’t been fully engaged.”
The main goal of SCNO, Callaghan said, is to help facilitate even more good.
“These nonprofits often don’t have the time or resources to look at the big picture and find ways to become even more impactful,” Callaghan said. “The goal of each team is to provide an outside perspective to these organizations, identify issues or areas for improvement and provide potential solutions.”