Wanting to increase awareness of their services, but lacking the resources to hire business consultants, The Children’s Foundation turned to Sauder's Business Career Centre and the Master of Management Community Business Project for help.
Established in 1957, The Children’s Foundation is a social profit organization that provides a unique combination of counseling, prevention and intervention services, as well as programs that focus on building stronger families and capable children. In 2011, the Foundation was eager to reach a wider and younger audience, but reluctant to use social media due to a lack of expertise and concern about privacy issues.
The Community Business Project
The Children’s Foundation’s issue captured the attention of three Master of Management (MM) students at the Sauder School of Business, Mario Cruz, Oana Toma, and Maria Shipulina. A key part of the MM program is the Community Business Project, a six-month long volunteer consulting project that pairs student groups with non-profits, charities and socially or environmentally-focused organizations.
As part of the project, Mario, Oana and Maria were hired to create a report and provide recommendations on the benefits and pitfalls of social media usage for non-profit organizations. The students worked under the direct supervision of Zdeno Rusnak, Program Director, with help from Elizabeth Demner, President of the Board of Governors, and Jim McLaughlin, Executive Director.
Finding that successful social media strategies helped to boost brand image and donations for non-profits, while also ensuring the privacy of those involved, the MM students recommended that The Children’s Foundation use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and a blog to connect with the community, promote news, and provide psycho-educational advice.
The students outlined how to leverage these social media platforms and created a social media policy and implementation strategy. The Board was thrilled with the team’s work and, based on their recommendations, now accepts that social media policy and re-branding are vital to the Foundation’s future.
“We were overjoyed by the intellects that were presented to us in these three young individuals... They challenged our thinking... They did a great job of telling us what was, they did a great job of telling us what is possible, and they gave us great feedback on the kinds of cautions we need to have as we move forward,” said Executive Director, Jim McLaughlin.
The Children's Foundation was thoroughly impressed by the Sauder team, and agreed that they met if not surpassed anything a professional consultant could have provided.
Since the completion of the Community Business Project, The Children’s Foundation has offered Maria, Oana and Mario membership on their Board of Governors.