Undergraduate students in the College Park Scholars Public Leadership Program participated in a DIY Leadership Challenge last semester where they raised more than $6,000 in seven days. The challenge served as an experiential learning activity in fundraising. Students were challenged to raise as much money as they could in seven days with only a $20 seed fund.
During the challenge, students learned about leadership, creativity, effective communication, persuasion, how to motivate people, how to have drive, and how to build the skills they need for their second year capstone projects. Jennifer Littlefield, director of the Public Leadership Program, said at the end of the challenge students gave presentations on how they executed their fundraising, what challenges they faced and what they learned from the process.
Overall, 84 students were divided into 20 teams to participate in the challenge. Participants reported that they found the challenge to be stressful, but ended up being proud of their achievement at the end. The students successfully raised $6,200 during the challenge. And because the causes and nonprofits who will receive the funds haven’t been selected yet, students were forced to think creatively in their marketing strategies. They had to convince donors that their money would be spent wisely, without having a formal plan in place. Students chose to focus on letting donors know their money would make a difference locally and contribute to community betterment.
Using a Go Fund Me page, students worked to raise money through outreach both on and off campus. On campus, they held bake sales and sold Krispy Kreme donuts. They also hosted contests, sold stress balls and offered to do chores in exchange for donations.
The money raised during the challenge will go toward grants that the students will award to Prince George’s County nonprofit organizations in the spring semester. Students will consider grants from local nonprofits and interview their top choices in person. Last year, students in the program gave away $9,000 to two local organizations. This year, students are aiming to raise a total of $11,000 to donate.
The University of Maryland School of Public Policy supports the College Park Scholars Public Leadership program for undergraduate students to help them explore leadership and citizenship. Learn more about the Public Leadership Program here.