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Compass’ mission is to inspire business professionals to engage with their local nonprofits to transform communities.

Compass’ goals are to:

    • Help Greater Washington, DC, Greater Philadelphia and Greater Chicago nonprofit organizations carry out their missions more effectively and efficiently both in the short-term and for the long-term.
    • Facilitate a strong relationship between select business professionals and nonprofit leaders.
    • Bring the education, expertise and experience of seasoned business professionals to the nonprofit community.
    • Cultivate in volunteers a deep, lasting, and personal commitment to the nonprofit community.


Shortly after the September 11th attacks, several Harvard Business School alumni in Washington, DC were looking for an innovative way to use their talents to serve their local community. They recruited friends and colleagues to volunteer on consulting teams for five nonprofits in the DC area. The founding group discovered that not only was the service filling a great need within the nonprofit sector, but it was also filling a great need for business school alumni and other business professionals. These business people were eager to give back to the community using their business skills and expertise. However, structured outlets for this type of volunteerism
did not exist.

The program ran for a second year in 2002-2003. Again, about 30 volunteers worked with five local nonprofit organizations. During that year, the founding group planned for the growth of the initiative and approached the alumni groups of three other business schools: Stanford Graduate School of Business, Wharton Business School, and Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. The groups agreed to join forces and operate a single program that would be offered to their local alumni. As a result, in the spring of 2003, these groups officially formed an alliance and named the program Compass. In 2006, the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business joined the Alliance.

In the intervening years, Compass fine-tuned its processes, including client criteria, the client and volunteer selection processes, and support for volunteers. In 2008, Compass began working closely with the local alumni clubs of six additional business schools to recruit their members: Darden (University of Virginia), Yale, Northwestern, Michigan, Cornell, Columbia and Duke. Compass remains a program focused strongly on recruiting MBA alumni from top business schools.

Since 2001, over 365 nonprofit clients have been served by over 2,300 MBAs and other highly skilled business professionals through Compass. These volunteers have delivered more than $54 million of strategic consulting services to the Greater Washington nonprofit community for free.

In 2017-18, Compass launched 16 projects in Philadelphia and nine in Chicago while serving 50 Greater Washington nonprofits.