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A MAUDE Framework Case Study: The Book Sale for Belugas

November 23, 2012

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick – FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of my favourite scenes in the movie “That Thing You Do” is when they hear their song being played on the radio for the first time and go crazy. I had a moment like that recently when I was reading an article on the Fast Company website when an ad popped up for our book!  The book was released last month, and while I know that the ad was generated by cookies that know that I’ve been checking out the book’s Amazon site, it nevertheless got me pretty excited. But I digress… I mention the book because in it we introduced the MAUDE Framework for Community Service Projects. The framework provides guidance on developing community service projects by focusing on five key aspects that can help increase the impact and long-term sustainability of the initiatives.

Last week I came across an event that captures the MAUDE Framework really well. It was developed and delivered by some fresh faces to event management: a small group of 8-year olds and a 4 year-old little sister. The kids wanted to do something to help beluga whales, so they hosted a book sale. The books were all “gently used” and donated by students from their school. Altogether, they collected 500 books and raised $433.50.

The MAUDE Framework and the Book Sale for Belugas

The framework looks at five criteria, each of which is illustrated through the book sale.

  • Meaningful
    The first element of the framework looks at whether or not the project has a meaningful impact on the community. For any community service goal, there are different strategies that you can implement and each will have a different degree of impact. The kids had decided that they wanted to help belugas, and we talked about their options. In the end, they decided that they could make a positive difference by raising money for an organization that is doing work to help the whales. They chose the Vancouver Aquarium. The sale also helped get kids excited about reading, and found new homes for books that otherwise would have sat on shelves.
  • Aligned
    The second criteria looks at alignment with the organization’s mission, vision and values. Well, they’re not an official organization, but if we extend this to the school, then a book sale that encourages reading certainly is in alignment.
  • Unique Skills
    We all have things that we do uniquely well, or have access to resources and contacts that have unique abilities. In this case, the students had access to a great resource: books that they had read that were sitting unused on their shelves. They also had lots of friends with books. Every day for about two weeks, they visited all the classrooms in the school and asked students to bring in donations. The results were impressive! (Note – Lesson learned for next time: we’ll have boxes labeled for the donations as they come in to make sorting a bit easier!) As for the four year-old, she added in her talents by singing Raffi’s Baby Beluga.
  • Destination Specific
    When designing a project, it is valuable to look at the needs of the local area. In this case, this was done through the leftover books from the sale. Although most of the books were sold, there were about 100 leftover that were donated to a local charity with a family resource centre.
  • Engaging
    One of the risks in designing community service projects is that you people won’t be interested in participating and so it is really important that it be engaging. The screams of “I love that book!”, the line ups to buy the books and the huge smiles as the kids walked away with their nose in their new books were clear signs that they hit the mark with this event.

Tips for Using the MAUDE Framework

If you’re interested in applying the MAUDE Framework, I have a few recommendations:

  1. Start with U: Begin by listing all the things that you or your organization do exceptionally well. By leveraging these skills or resources, you’re able to amplify the impact of your project. Consider the effect of a marketing company designing a campaign for a food bank – this effort could potentially far exceed the impact that they could have by doing a canned food drive.
  2. Think Long-Term: Check if there is on-going support needed for your project to have long-term significance for the community. For example, if you are involved in building a well, how will it be maintained? Who will provide services, training or equipment for this?
  3. Work with Local Contacts: Community service groups and even destination management companies are great resources for event professionals to rely on in developing community projects. As an example, they can coordinate multiple organizations to provide continued support for a project. They likely also have valuable experience that can streamline the planning process.
  4. Avoid Photo-Op CSR: Using the framework can be a good step to avoid developing community service projects that are more about public relations than they are about having a positive impact. That said, I am in favour of promoting an organization’s good work in the community provided that it has had a genuine positive impact. If it hasn’t, the organization runs the risk that the public relations campaign will backfire on them.
  5. Be Prepared: I can’t leave my risk management hat off for too long, so a quick reminder to use common sense, use good health and safety practices and talk to your insurance provider about your plans.
This article is based in part on information in Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Meetings and Events Industry by Elizabeth Henderson and Mariela McIlwraith. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.  All rights reserved.
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