The Saturday before Martin Luther King Junior’s 90th birthday was chilly, with serious snowstorms in the forecast, but the halls of the Project Management Center for Excellence at the University of Maryland were abuzz with excitement. Eagerly huddled around flip charts and computers were representatives from 24 nonprofit organizations, along with 97 project managers. On the docket were 28 projects in various stages of implementation. The fifth annual Project Management Day of Service (PMDoS) was well underway.
PMDoS, an annual event where project managers give their time and share their expertise with nonprofits that need help with strategic or other organizational issues, is the brainchild of M Powered Strategies (MPS) President and CEO, Kendall Lott. In 2014 he joined forces with Laura Barnard, founder and CEO of PMO Strategies, and together they formed the nonprofit, Project Management for Change, which hosts PMDoS. Their mission is to unleash the boundless potential of the project management profession, to empower and transform communities around the world.
The first PMDoS was held outside of Washington, DC, on MLK’s birthday in 2015. Over the years, the event has garnered enthusiastic praise from project managers and nonprofits alike. Maintaining volunteers, fiscal management, marketing, and other business processes are key to running a nonprofit. But, as Steve Genn, a Project Manager and PMDoS sponsor from Markon Solutions remarked, “Nonprofits have tremendous passion; they do amazing things for our community. But sometimes where they need some assistance is around projects and around the business skills that we take for granted.”
The nonprofits in attendance at this year’s PMDoS represented a variety of sectors, such as international development; mental health; education and arts; homelessness; and Veterans Services. Howard University sent a team for their “Innovation for Housing for the Homeless” project. Pure Play Every Day, whose mission is to facilitate pure play for every child, sent two middle-schoolers as part of their team of representatives.
“Two big developments that I saw this year were so indicative of maturity,” noted Kendall. “The PMDoS team spent nearly a year planning, and the event was incredibly well orchestrated and executed. The continuous improvement that project managers are so capable of shows in how the lessons learned are plowed back into the planning for each subsequent year. Also, we have amazingly dedicated PMDoS team members, who come back year after year, working in various roles. They are genuinely committed and knowledgeable.”
MPS analyst Rizwan Oskoui, who has served as Human Resources/Training Lead for PMDoS DC for the past three years, is an example of the commitment that the volunteers bring to this event. “These organizations have the same basic needs regardless of their cause, and they are always so grateful for the magic the project managers and our volunteer staff create! My work…may be just a small piece of the puzzle, but it is incredibly moving when you look out over the event hall and can see the results of your labor. That feeling of absolute joy is what brings me back every year – and into my fifth year for PMDoS DC 20.”
“The second major development,” Kendall continued, “is the impact on the nonprofit organizations, as those that have participated in the past come back again and again, and can speak to how their projects have been improved and how much more effective they are in delivering on their mission. Kudos to the PMDOS 19 team for not just doing well, but continuously returning to do it better. It shows.”
Today PMDoS events are happening all around the world – from Brisbane, Australia, to Gdansk Poland, to San Francisco. In addition to PMDoS, PM for Change has started a Continuous Value Delivery (CVD) program, where they offer ongoing coaching for nonprofits as well as PMs.
For more information, visit PM for Change.