Monday, May 7, 2012

Community-based Team Project Reflections

The objective of our team project is to create a handbook on ways of fundraising.  Our goal is to be able to give the next year’s class of SPAN 332 a guidebook on how to tackle the challenges of starting a fundraiser.  This includes information on how promote an image (branding), networking in the community (starting a fundraiser), and fundraising ideas specifically in the Champaign area (outlining the pro’s and con’s).  We’ve divided our project into three main components in which we think will be usefully information to pass down to the next group of students enrolled in Spanish 332.

One of the challenges that we faced as a group was figuring out the initial steps of starting a fundraiser.  We found it difficult in planning a fundraiser without knowing what steps to take and without the tools to help us execute our plans.  Our group was very confused and slightly frustrated because we had no direction on what to do.  Since we felt like we were lacking the resources to start a fundraiser (no one in our group had experience with starting a fundraiser) we decided to brainstorm ways in which we could help the next group of students excel and actually accomplish a fundraising event.  We took advantage of working in a group by compiling our ideas and textbook knowledge into an organized packet.  This is a resource in which we would have liked to have in the beginning of the semester and we hope that it would help spark ideas and initiate action for the next students who choose to work on the any fundraising project. 

So what?
The objective of our team project is to assist future Spanish 332 classes in designing a fundraiser that can help benefit the local schools, i.e. Champaign Central. Working with this objective in mind, we feel that a fundraiser is a great way to apply the concepts that will be learned in class along with an extensive knowledge of community service learning. In this class we have reviewed concepts relating to starting a social business, likewise, a fundraiser is a kind of social business in which an objective/goal must be established (who is being helped, and how much is needed?), a service or product needs to be offered (what will people buy/need?), a target market needs to be established (who will purchase the service or product?), an initial investment is needed to get started (to purchase materials, products, etc.), a service or product will be provided (i.e. one of our examples was to sell food and/or beverages), donations are accepted (i.e. canning), and the profits are used to benefit those in need (i.e. the local schools and their students). Having to go through these steps will not only reiterate the concepts learned in class, but also require the students to work closely with the community and understand their problems and needs and how they can be helped.  

Now what?
I believe that this group project is important in the long term as it provides a basis for future students to generate ideas about how to develop a fundraiser and how to maximize its efficiency for a local community organization. Often times the hardest part of a project is the first step, and just having a few suggestions with how to take that first step can make all the difference. Ideally students will be able to use this in all their organizations to be able to gather funds and increase awareness of the issues the organization deals with in the community. In my mind the most successful project would be the creation of an annual fundraiser that becomes a well known event in the community and is able to bring a lot of like minded organizations together, spread awareness in the community, and financially benefit local service organizations. Structuring such a project is ambitious, but with community members and the support of the class I really believe that even the most ambitious is possible.

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