Students in the strategic management and entrepreneurship class of College of Business assistant professor Jean Kabongo recently performed a consultation project for Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue (NHAR) in Lakewood Ranch, a local nonprofit organization. Staffed 99 percent by volunteers, this no-kill shelter is dedicated to rescuing dogs and cats and helping families adopt animals. NHAR is named in honor of the late developer and animal-loving philanthropist, Nathan Benderson.
During USFSM’s 2014 spring semester, two teams of students conducted an analysis of NHAR’s overall operations, judging opportunities, threats, strengths, weaknesses and competition from similar organizations in the area, followed by recommendations in support of the organization’s growth initiative. The students were able to apply classroom principles such as developing a mission and vision statement, internal and external auditing, as well as generating, implementing and evaluating strategies into real-world business practice.
Based upon the students’ research, NHAR’s Board of Directors determined that while donations and volunteers remain absolutely crucial to the viability and development for their organization, they need to adopt more business oriented practices to ensure sustainability. Students reached the conclusion that NHAR has opportunities to grow and meet demand, but it must develop more sources of steady income independent from its adoption fees as they can be a barrier to achieving its primary mission of finding good homes for its shelter animals. They also recommended redesigning NHAR’s welcome center, a project currently underway, and establishing a relationship with USF Sarasota-Manatee to begin an internship program with the university’s career services department.
“As undergraduate business students we are often completing case studies on large multinational corporations that will never be used,” said Broc Fernandez, student from the strategic management and entrepreneurship course. “This opportunity incorporated the human element and truly motivated our team because we knew we could make a difference.”
Professor Kabongo said the project proved to be a good learning experience for his students. “It brought real-world business and challenges into the classroom and offered students the opportunity to understand how a local nonprofit organization is managed and how managers there strive to find solutions to situational challenges with the emphasis on organizational performance,” said Kabongo.
From NHAR’s point of view, the insights gained proved practical and instructive. “It is always good to have someone else look at a situation for you,” said Rob Oglesby, NHAR president. “With different perspectives and different sets of eyes, there was a lot of what we already knew and some good ideas and suggestions. It was valuable and inspiring to see the students’ passion and energy.”