A West Virginia University master’s cohort has created a fundraising effort to benefit the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect (EndCAN). The College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences sport management on line master’s students worked together to identify the non-profit recipient of the funds, decide on a product and generate a marketing plan.
“One member of our class, Morgan Montgomery, was instrumental in securing our start-up funds. She is in Colorado, near the charity’s headquarters, and contacted them, pitched our idea and gained their support. We knew we had a financial obstacle to overcome, so Morgan was successful in getting the organization to provide us with $500 to launch the product,” said Kevin Spano, team CEO.
“I met with Lori Poland from EndCAN and told her our idea over the summer. She loved it instantly and offered $500 dollars which was the money we used to buy the bracelets and then distributed them to everyone. After that, everyone was responsible for selling between 15-40 bracelets in their respective hometowns,” Montgomery explained.
“The project began to pick up once we made the connection with Lori. We found out exactly what was needed to form a partnership. The class fell into line, supporting the organization any way we could,” Montgomery added.
The class selected the product, a basic rubber bracelet, with the “EndCAN” name on one side and "Ending Child Abuse and Neglect in Our Lifetime" on the other.
“We chose this because it is popular among many demographics, easy to produce and wear, highly visible to start the conversation and fashionable in today’s times,” said Spano. The class generated $3,500 to benefit EndCAN.
One of EndCAN’s themes is #givefive, showing images of hands in the air, like a ‘high five.’ “This made the wristbands an easy choice because they can be worn in photos that are already being used to promote #givefive,” said Montgomery.
The project experience had a positive impact on the students, while permitting their individual strengths to surface in the process.
“It certainly removed me from my comfort zone, while allowing me to play to my strengths that I utilize in my profession. As a team of 14, we knew we had our work cut out for us but when the class more than doubled to 36 members, the real challenge came,” explained Spano.
According to Spano, this set the class back, but he says the impact was minimal.
“We discussed the easiest way forward, communicated with each added member individually, and successfully executed our proposed project on an even larger scale,” he said.
The sport management master’s students collaborated to develop the concept during a scheduled visit to campus.
“The class was successful because they worked together as a 501 corporation. The students came up with an organizational chart where each student had a task to complete, with due dates within the eight-week course,” said Dr. Andro L. Barnett, professor and course instructor, Recreation and Sport Studies, Shepherd University.
Barnett explained how marketing fundamentals connected to the course.
“Students learned the fundamentals of marketing, product, price, place and promotion and discussed strategy throughout the eight weeks. Students sold bracelets for $5 each, by promoting the product over social media in each student’s respective state,” Barnett said.
“In the sport marketing industry, companies are making deals all over the world. This project offered students a chance to experience what this looks like by having them work individually and in collaboration while they’re at remote locations off campus. The experience gave them a sense of the business side of sports marketing,” he added.
As an added benefit, the group’s project was featured on the Today Show. According to Spano, Lori Poland, EndCAN co-founder, appeared on the show in September.
During the interview, Poland told her story of how she was a victim of child abuse. Her experience inspired her to help young children. Dr. Richard Krugman, EndCAN co-founder, spoke about the Foundation.
“Both wore the bracelets that our class designed and had manufactured. They showed them during the interview as their way to begin the conversation,” said Spano.
“Lori brought 100 bracelets with her and sold or gave them away. The exposure on the show and with Lori selling them helped get the word out,” explained Montgomery, project team member.
Montgomery says it was a perfect time for her to become engaged with a fundraising project.
“For me, it was a great experience discovering a new passion. I had always wanted to get involved with a non-profit and EndCAN seemed like the perfect time for me to get involved and to include my grad school classmates. I honestly cannot thank my class enough for getting behind EndCAN and doing such great work,” Montgomery said.