UBC students develop fundraising plans for local charities
One would not normally associate engineering students with designing fundraising campaigns, but that is exactly the challenge posed to the first-year engineering class at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus this fall.
The students were taken out of their comfort zone and pressed to learn new skills, all to the benefit of local non-profit agencies and to further their education.
Laura Patterson, technical and professional communication Instructor with UBC’s School of Engineering, said the goal of the project is to get the students engaged in the community and learn how to communicate their ideas in verbal and written form.
Patterson says as engineers, the students will need good communication skills.
“Soft skills are very important for an engineer,” says Patterson. “Proposals are going to be the bread and butter of any engineer. The most important thing for them to learn in this lesson is client interaction and audience adaptation.”
The students were matched with six local organizations – Project GROW (Ghana Rural Opportunities for Women); Habitat for Humanity; Kelowna and District Society for Community Living (KDSCL); Inn from the Cold; Science Opportunities for Kids; and Crimes Stoppers – and charged with the task of developing unique fundraising ideas.
After meeting representatives from each organization, students researched the groups, found their needs, developed a fundraising plan and compiled what they learned into presentations made in front of their class and representatives from the agencies.
Along with verbal communication skills, the students learned written communication as well.
Lori Field, program coordinator with the Learning Exchange at UBC's Okanagan campus, says the students are very enthusiastic about the projects as are the agencies they worked with.
“It’s their first year so you are setting a tone for them going forward,” says Field. “They were really interested in what they were doing. They came up with some great ideas.”
Now that the students have presented their plans, the plans will be given to the organizations to do with as they see fit.
Field says non-profit organizations are always chosen for such projects, and both sides of the table benefit from the work and interaction.
“The organizations like working with the university and they like meeting and getting to know the students,” says Field.
Tara Tschritter, Inn from the Cold coordinator, says the university students always bring something fresh to the table.
“They have such amazing ideas that are outside the box,” says Tschritter, adding the students came up with the idea of holding a shopping cart race around Kelowna. People would pledge to take the carts a certain distance with the money going to the group that helps the city’s homeless community.
Tschritter said they are looking into holding the race in the spring, but no firm commitment has been made yet. She added using the shopping carts would be symbolic of the plight of the homeless – who often store their worldly possessions in shopping carts – and she sees tremendous potential for the event.