Thursday, October 18, 2012

Community engagement forum: examples from Envision Financial and Marketing

At the community engagement forum on October 12, two pairs of presenters shared inspiring stories and examples of community engagement.

One pair was Lori Woods and Hope Taylor. In case you couldn't attend the forum, you can find out what they had to say in my earlier post.

The other pair was Susan Byrom and Gail Tibbo, and this is what they told the audience.

Community engagement examples from Susan Byrom

About Susan

As Manager, Corporate Citizenship at First West Credit Union, Susan Byrom provides leadership to Envision Financial and Valley First on community partnerships, sponsorships, donations, employee volunteerism and community outreach. She graduated from SFU, and holds an MBA with a specialization in Nonprofit Organization Management from Trinity Western University. Susan is Chair of the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Credit Union, Insurance and Finance Committee, a Director with the Langley School District Foundation, and an Advisor to the Surrey Rent Bank.
At Envision Financial we’re committed to making a real difference in the lives of our members and in our local communities. That’s why we develop community partnerships with local charitable organizations like the Douglas College Foundation.

In 2005, Envision and Douglas joined together to sponsor the Envision Financial Light the Lake, establishing a $100,000 education endowment. Over the years the partnership has evolved and now, after two years of planning, we’re excited to move onto the next phase of our relationship by creating the Envision Financial Douglas College Community Capacity Building program.

This innovative program matches third and fourth year Douglas College students with a local nonprofit agency to address a critical organizational or developmental need in the local agency. Nonprofit leaders have access to our students' expertise, research and recommendations, while students learn about the social issues in their own community. Good things come from developing stronger relationships with our community!

Community engagement examples from Gail Tibbo

About Gail

C. Gail Tibbo (MBA, CMRP, CMC) is Chair of the Marketing Department, and President of Incisive Marketing Inc., a Canadian strategy and intelligence consultancy. She is the founding Portfolio Chair for Business Intelligence for the Canadian Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, and the co-creator of the Peter Legge International Institute for Sales Excellence. Gail is a marketing strategist, analyst and researcher, author and educator who has empowered many firms to enhance and streamline their marketing capabilities, and guided many students towards a rewarding career in marketing and sales.

As educators of the next generation of marketers, our challenge is to help students transition to the business world. We use service learning throughout our marketing courses because it helps them become business savvy. Our students have done projects and marketing plans for hundreds of commercial and non-profit organizations including radio stations, BBB, banks, and retailers.

For our capstone marketing course, Marketing Practicum, students take on a real project, over four months, using the skills they’ve learned from 10 marketing courses.

Last fall, we saw the opportunity to learn from and partner with Envision Financial, an organization that is focused on community engagement. We assigned three groups of practicum students to work on projects sponsored by Envision: two groups worked for Coquitlam Foundation and one worked for Surrey Food Bank.

For Coquitlam Foundation, one group undertook a market analysis and strategy, and delivered an integrated marketing plan. The second group researched local non-profit organizations and their event plans, in order to create an event database along with an event strategy. They also planned the Foundation’s 20th anniversary gala event.

Surrey Food Bank wanted to create awareness and develop youth volunteer capacity. Our students worked with volunteers to understand their perspectives and motivation, before creating a youth marketing and engagement strategy for the Food Bank, including promotional tools to make it work.

These projects succeeded from many standpoints. Students became personally involved and committed. They attended client meetings, spoke at board meetings and volunteered at events. Their projects culminated in presentation night, where students presented their work to 80 guests, including the presidents of Envision Financial and Douglas College, board members of all involved organizations, mayors and faculty.

This kind of community engagement is a win for all involved. It raises the bar for students, by involving them with real businesses that have real marketing needs. And it reinforces a positive and professional image of Douglas College and its students in the community.

In 2013, we want to involve students from other areas of the College in these projects. By making projects more cross-disciplinary, we’ll add even more value for students and for our community partners.

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