Experiential Learning in Entrepreneurship Education – Students Organising Charity Events
The objectives for this assignment are to enable students to: (a) experience entrepreneurship in action by organising a charity event, and (b) consider what they have learned by writing a reflection paper. The assignment also develops the entrepreneurial capabilities of students and demonstrates how entrepreneurial behaviour can be used to benefit people in need.
Engaged Research Partners
The community partners are highly varied, as each student group selects its own charity organisation with whom it wishes to collaborate and donate the monies raised.
Brief outline on community-based learning/research activity
The assignment requires students to generate their own ideas for fundraising, then organise and run the event, and conclude by writing a paper reflecting upon their experiences. The following are the guidelines that they are requested to follow:
- The event must be organized through self-selected groups, but the reflection paper must be submitted on an Individual basis.
- The target amount of money to be raised is €2,000 per group.
- The maximum number of students per group is three.
- Each group can self-select their own event to run and charity whom they wish to support.
- All events must be passed by the Review Committee (lecturer, entrepreneur, representative from insurance company) following a presentation in class and submission of completed documentation.
- Additionally, every student must complete two DIT Health and Safety online modules, in addition to submitting the documentation required by the insurance company. These requirements refer both to the preparation activity and to the event itself.
- The group must meet with their chosen charity to ensure that they fully understand the work of the charity and to receive their support for the event that the students are organising on behalf of the charity.
- The event can only be held during Weeks 6-10 of the semester to ensure proper preparation has been undertaken and that all requirements have been met.
- The reflection paper must contain a letter from the Group’s chosen charity confirming the date of the event and the amount of money that they received.
- One class is dedicated to Business Ethics to ensure that students are familiar with good practice in terms of ethical behaviour.
- Any losses incurred are the sole responsibility of the group, which ensures that some element of risk is attached to the assignment.
Student learning outcomes
The feedback from students has been consistently positive with many saying that it was their best learning experience in college because they:
- work with real organisations;
- develop essential transferrable skills;
- learn from and with communities;
- increase their reflective skills and critical thinking;
- increase their levels of social awareness;
- practice entrepreneurial behaviour;
- raise money for people in need.
As highlighted each year, if each group can make a difference to one person’s life, then their work will certainly have been worthwhile. More specifically, the expected outcomes are as follows:
- Students will appreciate how entrepreneurship can be utilised in not-for-profit organisations.
- Charities will gain greater awareness of their brand/ organisation due to the promotion work undertaken by the students.
- Charities will receive much needed income through the event organised by the students.
- Clients of the charity will benefit due to the ability of the organisation to provide essential services given the money provided by the students.
The assignment has been running for 12 years and it is estimated that the students have raised over €675,000 during that period. This has been a fantastic achievement by the students and they have supported a wide variety of charities and their clients. The assignment has also been recognised as an example of good practice within Ireland and in Europe. On some occasions, students have continued to work with their selected charity on a voluntary or paid basis after the assignment has been completed (two students became long-term employees).
Department of Marketing, College of Business, Dublin Institute of Technology
Prof Thomas Cooney
College of Business
Dublin Institute of Technology