(Dec. 12, 2014) - Students from the H-E-B School of Business & Administration (HEBSBA) paid it forward this fall by combining their cumulative business know-how to give back to the community. In the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) spirit of service, students in the HEBSBA’s pioneering capstone II course partnered with Home Instead Senior Care, an in-home senior assistance organization, to infuse good business sense with a valuable cause.
The Be a Santa to a Senior program enables the community to connect with a vulnerable demographic in Bexar County: the elderly. The program “identifies seniors who might not otherwise receive gifts during the holiday season and works with local businesses to help facilitate the purchase and distribution of gifts.” Many seniors will spend this holiday season alone. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11.8 million older persons lived alone in 2012. An often forgotten population, the elderly that fall into this category are isolated and have little or no family. This is why the HEBSBA reached out to Home Instead and offered to assist the organization in expanding its outreach.
Capstone students Slade Brown, Chris Floyd, and Chijioke Akujuobi were given the task of analyzing Home Instead’s current market strategy and developing tactics that will drive growth in the Be a Santa to a Senior program. Team Santa had a demanding assignment: With the competitive flood of philanthropy during the Christmas season, how do you get your cause noticed?
First, Team Santa identified the need for an online presence for the program. By sending donors online, contributions could be easily cataloged and funneled more effectively. The group postulated the implementation of a mobile application in which monetary donations are as simple as a tap of the screen. The crowd-funding tool would not only reduce campaign costs, but also develop a signature platform that would not be effortlessly forgotten. Unlike flyers or emails, an app remains as a static reminder of the campaign on the donor’s phone. Utilizing a mixture of web theory and campaign research of popular local charities, the team developed a pseudo application that followed best practices for donor solicitation.
Team Santa also explored expanding existing initiatives to build campaign awareness. Focused again on online sustainability, sponsorship driven social media “challenges” were proposed. Similar to the recent ALS campaign, the group would ask donors to complete a task followed by a monetary donation. The matriculation of such a challenge throughout social networks would shape awareness while also building donor involvement. In addition, the team also identified and reached out to several local eateries to establish donor nights.
Beyond the SWOT analysis, the group gained more than just business experience. “We didn’t do this project just for us, we were doing this to help someone else. It makes you more accountable because you don’t want to let them down,” explained Akujuobi. “It’s fulfilling to know that you’re helping people enjoy the holiday season.” Through working with the Be a Santa to a Senior program, these students learned that business isn’t always assets vs. liabilities. “It touches your heart,” said Floyd. “Working with this program has made this project so much deeper for us.”
To Be a Santa to a Senior this holiday season follow this link: http://www.beasantatoasenior.com
Pictured: Dr. David Vequist, Chijioke Akujuobi, Chris Floyd, and Slade Brown