Problem-solving students help charities to help themselves

Date 23.03.2017

With little or zero money to spend on digital marketing, charities often turn to university student interns to run their digital channels. But, there’s a problem. When the internship ends, the charity is back to square one. The University of Northampton, however, has come up with a solution…

“It’s a common problem for us,” said Kardi Somerfield, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Northampton. “We get approached by so many charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which are looking for students to carry out their digital marketing for them, to run their websites, Twitter, Facebook and so on.

“Unfortunately, we can’t help them all, and those that we do help are eventually faced with the prospect of their student intern coming to the end of their stay. The intern takes with them all of their expertise and knowledge of the organisation’s digital marketing methods, and the organisation is back to square one.

“What we need is a more sustainable model which allows the organisations to take control of their own digital marketing, so there’s no disruption if an intern leaves, or if we don’t have enough interns to go around.”

Kardi tasked a group of first year Advertising and Digital Marketing undergraduates to come up with a solution to the problem – and they came up with the idea of a DING event, which stands for Digital Inspiration for Non-Profit Growth.

Twenty seven charities and NGOs from the region have been invited to the DING, which will allow their representatives to network, listen to guest speakers and receive top tips on how they can improve their digital output.

Later in the year, a second day-long event will see five organisations selected to take part in a Hackathon, which will see the students and other experts work to come up with solutions for their digital marketing challenges.

Kardi added: “This sort of event is a relatively new concept, and I think may have originated in New York, when an agency decided that instead of trying to help the odd charity here and there with pro bono work, more organisations could be helped if they were shown how to go about their marketing.

“It’s a simple, but effective idea, and we’re looking forward to working with charities from our region and helping them to help themselves.”

The DING event takes place on Thursday 20 April at the University’s Park Campus and some spaces are still available – register for a place here.

Kardi Somerfield is pictured fourth from right with the students.