Course Benefits EMBA Students and Nonprofits

Executive MBA students at the Stetson University School of Business Administration put what they learn in their Marketing Decision Making course to work for Central Florida non-profits.

Over the past few years, student cohorts have provided marketing expertise to organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, the Coalition for the Homeless and Second Harvest Food Bank.

“Marketing is essential to the success of any organization. However, for a non-profit with limited resources, it is a critical component,” says B. Tod Cox, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing at Stetson.

Recently, Stetson students developed a marketing plan for Lighthouse Works, a non-profit that hires people who are visually impaired. Among other services, Lighthouse Works operates a contact center, using pioneering assistive technology, such as screen readers.

The organization is a subsidiary of Lighthouse Central Florida, a non-profit that provides rehabilitation services for Central Floridians who are blind or have some form of vision loss.

Blindfolds Build Understanding

To better understand the challenges faced by employees with visual impairments, Stetson EMBA students wore blindfolds as they entered Lighthouse Works. They struggled to navigate the organization’s hallways and to perform the same duties as employees. That experience helped them to have a greater appreciation for what Lighthouse Works employees face daily—and it informed the marketing plan they developed for the non-profit.

The cohort of students spent months doing research, planning, and development before presenting their recommendations to the non-profit. In their final marketing plan, they detailed actions Lighthouse Works could take to improve brand awareness, increase fundraising opportunities, and expand community partnerships at annual events.

They also advised Lighthouse Works on how to best leverage the talent and expertise of contact center employees.

Project Benefits Students, Non-Profit

While non-profits like Lighthouse Works benefit from EMBA students’ creativity and ideas, the students also benefit, says Stetson’s Cox. Students, he says, “engage with the community-at-large and become leaders and catalysts for change through hands-on learning opportunities.” 

Kyle Johnson, Lighthouse Central Florida’s vice president and chief sustainability officer, says it was “an incredible honor” to work with the EMBA students at Stetson.

“Lighthouse Works seeks to be a competitive player within Central Florida’s business sector and finding that optimal marketing formula will help us distinguish ourselves,” Johnson says. “As a growing social enterprise, we are pleased to have access to these insightful and creative marketing plans, and we’re thrilled to have helped inform and sensitize future marketers and budding business executives about our mission to serve and empower Central Florida’s community of blind and visually impaired.”

Check out EMBA Buzz, the Executive MBA blog to learn more about the ways EMBA students are making a difference in the world.