MBA Charity Auction raises money for Children's Lighthouse of Minnesota, the first children's respite care center of its kind in the state.


In a sea of coursework, group projects, and case studies, an undercurrent of philanthropy and giving runs deep among students in the Carlson MBA program. While they prepare for their own careers with razor-sharp focus, they also recognize the necessity of giving back to the community in which they study and work, hence the inception of the annual MBA Charity Auction.


This year's Charity Auction focuses on raising money and awareness for Children's Lighthouse of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building an independent home to provide short respite breaks for children with life-limiting conditions and families. The event, held on Friday, February 22, is organized by Carlson 4 Community (C4C), a service group led by Carlson School MBA students.


"Once we met Katie, the executive director, and learned about the amazing work Children's Lighthouse is doing, the need they are working to fill, and the partnerships they have in place to ensure it will be a successful contribution to the Twin Cities, we knew we wanted them as our partner in this year's auction," said Cutshall, C4C President and Full-Time MBA student.

The annual auction is the flagship event of the C4C student club, and is entirely student organized and intended to benefit a local nonprofit organization each year. The C4C board (a team of 11) as well as a number of student members, volunteer hundreds of hours in prepping for the gala event, which includes an evening of food, drinks, networking, and bidding on items in a live and silent auction.

Cutshall expects the event will continue to grow in scale. Last year, it was attended by more than 350 students, faculty, and alumni and raised more than $30,000. Cutshall is anticipating  400 attendees this year and hopes they'll exceed last year's donation total.

C4C's mission is to promote volunteerism and community involvement both at the Carlson School and within the community. "It's a great way to get students involved," said Cutshall of the C4C program. "There are just so many different places where they can make a difference."

In addition to the charity auction, C4C coordinates a number of volunteer activities throughout the year. Recent projects include participating in a Habitat for Humanity build day and a "penny wars" fundraiser held in collaboration with Net Impact.

"I think that people at Carlson have so many skills and such a wide variety of skills and there's a huge opportunity to bring those skills together to make a difference," said Cutshall.

"There's a lot more going on in the world besides just what's happening in your classrooms. It's an opportunity to use the skills you're gaining in the classroom to go out and help people and really make a difference."