Marketing class helps nonprofit organization
April 25, 2011 —
When people are cooped up in a nursing home with no friends or family nearby, the least they might ask for is a greeting card to brighten their day. The Touch A Life Foundation based out of Flushing is looking to do just that. Established in 2002, Touch A Life is 501 C3 community-based, nonprofit organization that works primarily with the elderly. The foundation sends greeting cards to the elderly in adult foster care homes, convalescent homes and assisted living homes who don’t receive phone calls, visitors or mail. Touch A Life founders Karen Coulter and Leesa LaCroix hired Gary Clark's organization and administration class to improve their business operations.
“The clients must pay for student expenses involved in the projects,” Clark said. “My classes have been given a total of $184,000 to perform these projects since I began teaching.”
Clark’s classes have worked on 117 client-financed projects since 1992.
Clark said that Touch A Life originally provided the class $1,000 to cover expenses, but through student fundraising efforts, the class will be giving Touch a Life a total of $1,600 back.
“I was very pleased that we were able to help Touch A Life, not only by giving ideas for future strategies to improve their business, but also by giving them the funds to send cards to 24 more senior citizens living in a nursing or assisted living home,” Clark said.
Touch A Life is run by charging an annual fee of $25 to “adopt a grandparent.” With this donation, the foundation will send one personalized greeting card per month to an elderly person.
Recipients will also receive cards for their birthday and holidays. Accounting junior Jacci Davis said that the cards are sent to remind the elderly that they are still thought of and loved, even if their family and friends cannot visit. "Touch A Life wants each and every person in a home to feel special and remembered," Davis said.
Clark’s class has taken donations from people who are willing to “adopt a grandparent.” The class has also organized fundraisers for foundation at Bob Evan's, Bennigan's, Damon's, Panda Express and Buffalo Wild Wings.
Business management junior Jessica Ignash said the restaurant fundraisers have gone well. “It feels good to donate to a worthwhile cause where we can see where the money is actually going to,” she said. “It makes me feel good to be able to know that we are making a difference for these elderly people.”
Students in Clark’s class will create a large binder report that is submitted to the client at the end of the semester. The report contains original research, evaluations and recommendations to help the clients succeed in their business.
The class recommended making major changes to the Touch a Life website and creating an online payment option for customers.
General business junior Margeaux Appold said that she recommended clients invest some of their fundraising into taking a computer class and learning to become better versed in writing proper business emails.
“As a class, we have interviewed directors of nursing and convalescent homes regarding the cards they receive from the Touch A Life organization, prepared new tag lines and logos for Touch A Life and prepared a new brochure,” she said.
Accounting junior Josh Brown said that Touch A Life was an ideal client for the class.
“Touch A Life is a small company with a great cause, but they lacked knowledge in the field of business,” Brown said. “Since the class overall has minimal background knowledge, we were able to learn along the way and help Touch A Life with the knowledge we gained.”
Clark said that students who take his classes will develop the soft skills they need to succeed in the workplace. “Skills learned include teamwork, team building, critical thinking, analytical thinking, written and oral communication, reflective thinking, as well as the ability to deal with ambiguity, uncertainty and unstructured situations,” he said.
Marketing senior Emily King said that Clark is one of the most dedicated professors she has ever come across and appreciates that she has the opportunity to learn from real-world experiences.
“Clark understands that lecturing is not teaching, and if you want your students to learn something, then don't talk at them,” King said. “Clark has also taught me the importance of not only becoming a great leader, but a great follower.”