Local non-profits get help from Western marketing students

DANBURY, CONN. — Relying on community support, volunteers and lots of donations, most non-profit organizations struggle just to make ends meet. So they can reach their goals of helping others, many are looking toward the Internet as a valuable tool in reaching more people and garnering more support.

In order to help agencies in the Danbury community fulfill their goals of helping other, a group of marketing students at Western Connecticut State University is spending a semester working with six area non-profits to assist with their social networking needs.

WCSU Professor of Marketing John Cronin, who teaches “Advanced and Integrated Marketing Communications,” said there are 30 undergraduate students working on the project. Students will sit down with clients, find out what their wants are and then assess their needs.

“Most have Facebook pages, but there are number Internet vehicles today,” Cronin said. “There are a lot of social networks they are not aware of.”

James Lang, president of Dream Come True of Western Connecticut, a non-profit all-volunteer agency that fulfills wishes for children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, spoke at an initial meeting with the students in September. He said that since all of Dream’s marketing is done by volunteers, he hopes that the Western students will help increasing the number of online donations and attract more volunteers.

Brian Smith, program director of the Ridgefield Boys and Girls Club, said a tight budget and people in his organization wearing many hats are what motivated him to look to Western’s business students for help in his marketing and website needs.

“We enjoy the help. This is exciting for us,” Smith said. The club would like to promote itself through this project, Smith said, but he would also like to create an interactive community where parents, students, club volunteers and club alumni could all share ideas and communicate on a regular basis.

WCSU student Jeanne Donovan said it is a great learning opportunity to work with the Boys and Girls Club of Ridgefield.

“It is exciting to be able to assist a company in our community and because of the hands-on experience we will get,” Donovan said. “I think we can help make the club boost local participation by making it more public through social networking websites.”

Last spring was the first time Cronin designed a marketing course around assisting local non-profit groups; the project was a success, so he continued it this semester. However, for the past 20 years the university has worked with large companies, such as IBM, to improve their marketing strategies.

 

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

 

 

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