What started as a project for a team of FIU Master of Marketing students became an impactful experience that filled the hearts of many. Working together, and with support from local businesses, the team raised $50,000 to help Lotus House, a shelter for homeless women and children in Miami.
The assignment presented by professor Jayati Sinha: develop a campaign around “purposeful marketing” for Lotus House.
The goal, she noted, was to for students to apply their knowledge learned throughout the first eight months of the MSM program and also feel as though they were part of something bigger.
“When they used the theories, skills and knowledge they learned in class, and applied them to the real world, so many wonderful things happened,” said Sinha, who teaches consumer behavior in the College of Business’ marketing department. “The dynamic was bigger than the degree or the program.”
The first step in the eight-week project was to build awareness of the non-profit organization. The student teams put together the “#CoffeeAndThrift” event, an afternoon of shopping and sharing, at Lotus House Thrift Chic Boutique. They were also tasked with building a social media campaign promoting not just their project, but Lotus House’s work and needs as well. Additionally, students raised more than $2,500 donations using the social fundraising platform GoFundMe.
Next, the MSM students mobilized to find companies that would partner with the organization by donating furniture and other items. A local Rooms-To-Go franchise answered the call and donated 50 mattress sets to Lotus House.
Other businesses contributed with sponsorships and donations, including, Believer Apparel, BunnieCakes, Costco, Ibiley Uniforms, Perfect Love photography and Panther Coffee. Students collected uniforms, backpacks and school supplies as well diapers, baby supplies, clothing, and other household items for the women and children living at Lotus House.
“The greater lesson is that marketing does not have to be about a direct sell of a product or service; instead, it can genuinely make a difference in people’s lives,” MSM students Joni Fernandez-Marmo, Mariana Ferro and Aileen Sola wrote in their final essay. “This project served as a lesson in leadership, compassion and a higher purpose.”
Established in 2006, Lotus House provides housing, medical care and therapy services, and education for abused women and their children for up to one year while they rebuild their lives. The ultimate goal is to have them set off on their own.
How did the students do?
“Their work was exceptional,” said Sinha. “When you put hour heart and soul into something it’s not a grade or a number anymore. Students start seeing the difference their education can make in their community.”