Sold ... on a Good Cause

MIT Sloan community auctions off unique prizes, raises money for charity

How would you like to have a private lunch with MIT's new president, Dr. Susan Hockfield? Perhaps you'd prefer to have MIT Sloan Professor Stewart Myers chauffeur you to and from school in his 1961 Aston Martin. Thanks to a series of auctions Dec. 9, lucky MIT Sloan bidders captured these opportunities and an array of unique prizes. The auctions raised more than $30,000 for local and national charities.

Auctioneers in action Photo: Auctioneers in action at the “Caribbean Ocean” auction.

Held to mark the end of the fall term, the charity auctions grew out of a highly successful event held last year by the Caribbean Ocean, one of six sections used to organize MIT Sloan students. Organized by Alexander Loucopoulos, Alberto Brause, Kirk McKeown, and Mary Joseph, all members of the '05 class, that event raised about $7,000 for The Women's Lunch Place, a Boston charity that provides food, resources, and advocacy for homeless women and children.

“Alex and Alberto spearheaded the idea last year and Mary and I were part of their team,” says Kirk McKeown. “Our goal was to create a sense of community; we saw it as a great opportunity to build the culture. We had almost 100 percent participation in our section. Also, our section professors, teaching assistants, and admissions committee members donated many items, such as tutoring sessions and dinners at professors' homes. The class grew together and was unified around this event.”

“MBA time is inherently inner-focused time, but here we took time out at the holidays to think of someone else, and it felt great and was a big success,” he adds. “So we decided to blow it out to the whole school this year and infect everybody with the same enthusiasm we experienced last year.”

“This year we began talking about the auctions very early and identified 12 or so champions,” says Joseph. “Each champion stepped up and got people in their sections excited about the idea. Because we had champions from the '05 and the '06 classes, the auctions helped bridge the gap between first- and second-year students.”

A community effort

The result of lots of hard work by all sectors of the MIT Sloan community was a faculty and staff auction, which was cosponsored by Graduate Management Society (GMS) and the MIT Sloan Senate, and six student auctions, one for each student section.

The faculty and staff auction raised more than $6,200, which will be donated to The Women's Lunch Place. The privilege of having lunch with President Hockfield fetched $725, while the thrill of being chauffeured around campus by Professor Myers cost the winning bidder $160.

After the faculty and staff auction, the separate Ocean auctions were held simultaneously at various Cambridge restaurants. These events raised money for a variety of charities chosen by each Ocean section. Among the organizations receiving support are the Special Olympics, the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, the MIT Sloan Non-profit Internship Fund, the National Multiple Sclerosis Fund, and Horizons for Homeless Children.

One of the more unusual items offered up for bid was a chance to participate in the invitation-only 15th Annual Star Island Monster Shark Tournament in Montauk, N.Y., next summer. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the winning bidder and five guests, this item brought in $1,300.

“We couldn't have pulled this off without a complete community effort from faculty, the administration, the GMS, and the various clubs that donated money to help with event costs,” says Joseph. “People put their own agendas aside to do good for other people,” says McKeown. “It was really exciting to be a part of it, and we're already working on capturing the best practices so next year's classes can build on this success.”

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