Class Project Raises Over $40,000 for World Bicycle Relief
When Dr. Myra White gave the 13 student teams in her online Managing Virtual Teams spring course a charity challenge to raise money for World Bicycle Relief (WBR), she never expected them to raise $40,000 in less than two months.
Each semester, White creates five- and six-member teams who compete in a series of challenges that teach students how to create a high-performance virtual team. The final challenge involves raising money and awareness for a charity. The added challenge is that students enrolled in the online course are from around the world and never meet in person.
The organizers at WBR were impressed with how the students set up online fundraising pages through the Get Involved page on WBR’s website. There, the students outlined a clear fundraising strategy that included enlisting corporate matching and grants from their employers, creating Facebook pages, using Twitter, and encouraging people to watch WBR’s YouTube channel and their own videos. According to WBR officials, “Through the Harvard Extension School students’ efforts, World Bicycle Relief hit new giving records, garnering donations from 432 individuals on six continents (only Antarctica was missing). The students cast their nets wide, engaging the whole world in their efforts and it made a tremendous difference.”
The students’ efforts included:
- Raising $7,000 (enough money for WBR to buy 52 bicycles) by having a virtual race in which participants found sponsors for running, walking, or biking five kilometers at a location of their choosing.
- Convincing bicycle stores to donate from 10 to 20 percent of profits from customers’ purchases to WBR when customers mentioned their team name.
- Leveraging every opportunity to raise money, i.e. negotiating a $200 contribution from a car dealer as part of buying a car.
White chose WBR because of its pragmatic mission to empower individuals, families, and communities in remote areas of Africa by providing them with bicycles. With bicycles children no longer have to walk hours to school, and communities gain access to medical supplies and economic development opportunities.
Even though the semester has ended, teams are still raising money for WBR. White says this often happens, “Students find that helping others enriches themselves as well as the people they help. It shows them that they can have a positive impact on the world.”
White, author of The Superstar Roadmap: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Careers, further comments, “I believe that everyone has a bit of superstar in them. As educators our job is to bring it to life.”