Students in a “Writing for Nonprofits” class taught by Jessica Jorgenson–Borchert, assistant professor of English, have been working with Wesley House to raise funds to purchase an ID maker.
Borchert first connected with Wesley House at the beginning of the semester to inquire about a fundraising collaboration between the class and the organization. She said she reached out to them because of their involvement in the community.
“I shared the assignments and course expectations with those organizations,” Jorgensen-Borchert said. “Wesley House was one of the organizations who committed to this project. I also reached out to Wesley House because I know they are heavily involved in community work in our area. I felt they would be a good organization for students to partner with.”
Marcee Binder, Wesley House executive director, said the ID maker would help “make ID’s for the homeless folks who are enrolled in the day sheltering program.”
“The machine will let our homeless folk have something tangible and they will be known by their name,” Binder said. “It is a good feeling for them. Hopefully it will also let the community know who is being helped at Wesley House.”
The ID’s will also make accessing community resources easier for individuals who are homeless.
“We wanted a way for those who are program compliant to be able to identify themselves at Wesley House as well as when they are on the streets,” Binder said.
The class covers the organizational structure of nonprofits and the importance they have to communities. As part of the class, students were required to work with a local nonprofit and help with a fundraising campaign.
“By far the biggest component of this course has been in regard to the fundraising campaign where students have been involved in a semester-length service-learning project,” Jorgenson-Borchert said. “The class is composed of three different groups of students who are partnered with a local organization to create a fundraising campaign that benefits the organization.”
As part of creating the fundraising campaign, the students created an Indiegogo, an international crowdfunding organization, campaign to raise funds for their specific cause that would benefit that organization and the people the organization means to serve. They wrote business letters to receive funds locally or to share information about the campaign. Additionally, they created other promotional documents and content to help crowd fund such as radio PSAs, sharing their fundraising with local news media, and created a pitch Wesley House could share with potential partners or investors.
“The students have great ideas and fresh eyes,” Binder said. “They have really done some amazing things for us such as creating a brochure and a community resource guide. We love PSU and the partnerships with the various departments.”
The collaboration between the Writing for Nonprofits class and Wesley House has not only benefited Wesley House, but also the students involved with the fundraising, according to senior in English and editor for the campaign Stephanie Kimmel.
“Students gain experience and networking opportunities when they work with local nonprofits,” Kimmel said. “As professional writers, we need to understand how to write for our clients in a manner that reaches target audiences. The class provides students with the tools they will need in order to meet the specific communication needs of nonprofit organizations. I think we will all remember Dr. J.’s (Jorgenson-Borchert) encouragement about how to write for our readers, the use of rhetoric, and why nonprofits are an important part of our society.”
Binder hopes Wesley House will receive the ID maker by July, so they can begin to help the Crawford County homeless population get identification cards and for the 35 individuals currently enrolled in the Wesley House day sheltering program.
Borchert believes it is important for students to become involved with community nonprofits and for causes that “will benefit others in the Pittsburg community in some way” to do good and also for future endeavors.
“I think it’s important for students to get involved in their communities in whatever ways they can,” she said. “Getting involved could mean working with local nonprofits. Getting involved could mean volunteering their time toward an event or a cause. There are many ways to get involved in the work of your community. Community work is also important because some employers will want to see their employees volunteering or serving their communities in other ways. Getting started now can actually help you later on when you are on the job market to show employers that you are involved in your local communities.”
To date, 70-percent of their $1000 goal has been raised.