It was a great year for the MBA Food Fight at HBS as the Class of 2003 gave generously to alleviate hunger in America. The “Food Fight” is a friendly competition among MBA programs, with the goal of raising money for food banks in the United States through America’s Second Harvest (www.secondharvest.org). With over 20 top MBA programs participating, the Food Fight brings both attention and charitable donations to the issue of hunger. At HBS, all food and money raised is given to the Greater Boston Food Bank (www.gbfb.org), one of the largest food banks in New England and a part of the Second Harvest network.
Once again the backbone of HBS participation, the RC Sections raised over $10,750, along with 500 pounds of canned food during the two-week event. According to the GBFB, this translates into over 29,000 meals. With much of the philanthropic attention these days focused on the aftermath related to the events of September 11th, this tremendously generous donation was much-needed assistance to the work of the food bank. Given its operating model, every dollar donated to GBFB translates into 6-7 pounds of canned food.
But what would the Food Fight at HBS be without our own little friendly competition among the first-year Sections? Section Volunteer Rep Fiona Stoner (NF) took the lead in getting the RC Sections focused on the event and communicating with one another; meanwhile, Karen Bender (ND) updated the daily contribution totals on a poster near the first-year mailboxes and sent the stats to other Section Volunteer Reps. As in past years, this sparked a little inter-section rivalry that helped bring greater attention to the fundraising drive.
With the competition as context, let’s take a look at some of the “behind the scenes” strategies employed by the Class of 2003.
Pay-for-Performance: Taking a page from the FRC playbook, Section NF sponsored their football and soccer teams for so many dollars per goal, and then folks paid up when their teams did well.
Luxury Tax: Even though BGIE is still a semester away, another tactic used by a few Sections was to tie the Food Fight to the Harvard Ball. People attending the Ball were asked to apply a value-added tax of a few percent to what they expected to spend on the Ball.
Incentive Compensation: On the last day, Section NJ had an anonymous donor who pledged to match donations up to $150 on the event’s final Friday. NI raised $260 plus the $150 match on that day alone. According to one insider, “It was a great excitement builder and great motivator.”
Product Tie-In: But the most interesting story goes to the “Gatorade Battle” between Sections NA and NB. Section NA (the A-Team) challenged Section NB (Club-B) in a race to $1,200 to determine who was the “Superior Section.” Mark Bradshaw, the FRC professor for both NA and NB, apparently has a strange habit of drinking Orange Gatorade during every class. Bradshaw helped to issue challenges between the dueling Sections during their respective FRC classes. In honor of Mark’s help, it was decided that the losing Section had to buy and serve Gatorade to the winners before the first FRC case following the Food Fight, thus joining Mark in his little ritual. Amazingly, NA then raised over $1,200 in only 3 days with 100% participation. Clearly, NA loves Orange Gatorade!
Everyone who contributed deserves credit for making this year’s Food Fight a huge success. However, even friendly competitions have a winner and this year NI raised the most money during the two-week drive. Here are the final Section tallies along with the Food Fight organizers in each Section:
NI: $1453 (Carolyn Pestano); NA: $1271 (Ryan Desmond); NF: $1260 (Fiona Stoner); NK: $1075 (Rayford Davis, Claudia Onofrio, and Jeff LeBlanc);
NB: $1045 (Mani Saluja); NH: $1002 (Carolyn Wolff); ND: $970 (Karen Bender); NG: $830 (Michael Bor, Olivier Manuel); NJ: $816 (Diane McMahon, Louise Hulme); NE: $500 (Scott Boze); and NC: $470 (Lisa Thomas).
At the end of the day, the real winners are those who receive the over 29,000 meals that resulted from the generosity of the HBS RC Sections.