When Myra White issued a charity challenge to the 13 student teams in her Managing Virtual Teams spring course, asking them to raise money for World Bicycle Relief (WBR), she never expected them to raise $40,000 in less than two months.
Each semester, groups of five or six students compete in a series of challenges, with the final challenge of raising money and awareness for a charity. This year’s chosen charity, WBR, empowers individuals, families, and communities in remote areas of Africa by providing them with bicycles. With such transportation, children no longer have to walk hours to school, and communities can access medical supplies with greater efficiency.
Outlining a clear fundraising strategy through the Get Involved page on WBR’s website, the students enlisted corporate matching and grants from their employers, created Facebook pages, and used Twitter to raise funds. The funds from a virtual race alone, which allowed participants to find sponsors for a 5K at a location of their own choosing, raised $7,000 – enough for WBR to buy 52 bicycles. The students’ efforts raised WBR to new donation records, raising funds from individuals on six continents; only Antarctica was missing.
Even though the semester has ended, the students are still raising money for WBR – a phenomenon that White says often happens. “Students find that helping others enriches themselves as well as the people they help,” White said. “It shows them that they can have a positive impact on the world.”