Serving the HBS mission while studying: Board Fellows & Social Enterprise Club

Club Co-Presidents Hannah Merves and Ricardo Aguirre look at the impact HBS students are having on local non-profits through the club’s volunteer consulting work.

[stag_dropcap font_size=”50px” style=”normal”]A[/stag_dropcap]s students we often struggle with how to make sense of the HBS mission to educate leaders who make a difference in the world.  One student organization that is trying to fill the gap between developing the MBA skillset and having a tangible immediate impact in the community is the HBS Board Fellows & Social Enterprise Consulting Club (BFSEC), of which we are the Co-Presidents.

BFSEC matches HBS students with local non-profits, where students can volunteer their time, either by sitting on the board or doing consulting projects.  Through the BFSEC experience, students have confirmed the applicability of traditional business skills in non-profit settings, and have affirmed that using their skills to serve the world is part of being a responsible member of the business community.

One organization that has partnered with Board Fellows is Farrington Nature Linc, a 75 acre nature preserve in Lincoln, Massachusetts that seeks to provide low income kids from the city with a transformative experience in nature.  Farrington envisions a world in which every child has access to nature, every child knows that nature is a powerful source of physical and mental health and happiness, and every child learns that being a good citizen of the world includes being a steward of nature.

Farrington has an incredibly important mission and a dedicated staff but it did not have the resources to support full time MBAs to analyze their board development and fundraising needs.  Farrington submitted its first application to BFSEC over two years ago. The experience has been a very positive one for both Farrington and the students since then.



“It has been wonderful to work with the HBS BFSEC,” says Wendy Mastovich, Executive Director at Farrington,  “Over the past two years, the energy and analytical skills the MBAs have brought to our board meetings has invigorated the organization.  For example, our MBA students helped us improve our board recruitment and development, created a financial model to project the future fundraising needs at Farrington that has allowed us to go out to the community and start fundraising in a genuine way for the first time in our history, and they are helping us develop a Young Professionals Committee to bring young professionals into leadership roles on Farrington’s board. ”

[stag_dropcap font_size=”50px” style=”normal”]N[/stag_dropcap]ot only has BFSEC developed a longstanding relationship with Farrington, with MBAs supporting their operations year after year, BFSEC has also sent an HBS student, after graduation, to sit on the Board as a trustee.

Student Kirk Smith, an EC and member of the Farrington team in 2013, explains the value of working on a BFSEC project, “Sitting on the board of a non-profit was one of the most rewarding aspects of my experience at HBS. Given my professional background in the private financial sector, BFSEC gave me the unique opportunity to witness the work and governance of a great non-profit. It also helped me enrich my time at HBS by making me feel more connected to the local Boston community”.

It’s not just a few students at Farrington Nature Linc though. BFSEC is a group of 42 RCs and ECs working, over the course of the year, with 17 non-profits in the Boston area. These students serve as non-voting board members and do consulting projects to help non-profits better realize their missions. Students donate the equivalent of ~$100,000 in time over the course of the academic year. Partner non-profits range from hospitals to community colleges, to affordable housing developments, to museums. HBS students are making a real impact by using their MBA skill set to support each of these non-profits.

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If you want to learn more about this year’s projects and students, or to apply to join BFSEC visit our website at

BFSEC does not charge membership dues because students should not have to pay to volunteer their time to serve their community.  All club activities are currently sponsored by the generous support of Monitor-Deloitte and The Boston Consulting Group.  If you are interested in supporting the work of BFSEC please contact our Co-Presidents Ricardo Aguirre ( or Hannah Merves (

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