Grad student Erin Bigely believes that giving back to the community doesn’t mean you can’t make a profit. A member of the Socially Responsible Business Club at the Sloan School of Management, Bigley and four others recently persuaded 188 classmates who worked this summer at for-profit jobs to donate one percent of their salaries so other students could work at non-profit organizations.

“People signed up overwhelmingly,” Bigley says. “The response was fantastic, especially for a program with no track record.”

Bigley, whose project made it possible for her to afford to work this past summer at Habitat for Humanity in New Rochelle, New York, says helping others can in fact be profitable. The fund gives a student up to $500 a week in matching funds for 10 weeks.

While Sloan students may be personally interested in pursuing for-profit ventures, she says, they ‘re also interested in supporting those who want to help society. “I think some of it has to do with September 11 and some has to do with the fact that jobs are not so abundant as they were in the dot com craze,” she says. “People are asking themselves, what do I really want to do? Maybe I’d like to do something a bit more altruistic and work for the public good.

“Before I came to Sloan,” she adds, “I worked in engineering and finance. It was challenging to my intellect, but I felt that something was missing. After some soul searching, I realized that life is so short, I ‘d rather spend my time doing something that ‘s not only satisfying to me, but that also makes an impact on the community.

“I don’t want to just be bringing home a paycheck. I want to be making a difference in someone’s life.”