DUDLEY, Mass.—As Veterans Day approaches, Nichols College marketing and leadership students are launching a social media campaign for #GivingTuesday that will create awareness of and raise money for The Warrior Connection (TWC), a Vermont-based non-profit organization that helps military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). On Nov. 1, students will also launch a month-long, social media-based fundraising and awareness challenge (#NC22Challenge) to benefit TWC.
Students of Nichols College Professor Priscila Alfaro-Barrantes, Ph.D., have partnered with TWC through a connection she has with the organization. She wanted her marketing students to learn how to apply social media concepts to an experiential activity, and for students in her LEAD 101 (Learning to Lead) course to apply what they have thus far learned this semester related to “servant leadership.”
Entering its seventh year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by social media and collaboration. It’s observed the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (Nov. 27) in the U.S. and kicks off the charitable season for many organizations, charities, and events across all social platforms—particularly Facebook and Twitter—when many are focused on holiday and end-of-year philanthropic giving.
During an Oct. 23 campus presentation on the #GivingTuesday campaign and #NC22Challenge, TWC Executive Director Aaron Phillips—a Marine Corps veteran who personally experienced PTSD—spoke about TWC’s mission and goals, and shared facts about PTSD. He explained that he wants to scale the TWC program nationally to serve the affected population; keep services free for veterans and their families; engage donors and “vetrepreneurs”; and to raise $150,000 by January.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to be here at Nichols College and to meet you all—the leaders of tomorrow,” he said. “The Warrior Connection saves lives. We are not the solution, but we are absolutely part of the solution. So, I’m counting on your help, because our veterans deserve a bright future, and you all deserve a brighter future.”
First-year student William Guglielmo, a finance major from Middlebury, Conn., is one of Professor Alfaro-Barrantes’ students participating in the #GivingTuesday campaign. He explained why the campaign—and, especially, the cause—is important.
“The statistics of veterans with PTSD and their suicide rate are staggering,” he said. “We need to change that. Even if we could just raise enough money to put one veteran into a TWC Retreat—a program that has a 100-percent success rate—we would possibly be saving a life. If we could put into perspective how that one veteran once put their life at risk for us, we should repay it to them by making our best effort to save theirs.
“From this class experience, I have learned how to rally a group of people toward one collective goal,” Guglielmo added. “When you realize how important a cause like this is, it inspires you to work harder to achieve your goals. Through this project at Nichols College, I’m learning how to lead a group toward a short-term goal that will result in eventually achieving a long-term goal. Also, I have learned different ways to get people not working on the project involved, through campaigning or marketing the project.” Brian Edmands, a first-year student majoring in sport management, shared concerning statistics: “Out of every 100 veterans, 11-20 have PTSD. Only about 25 percent of veterans who have PTSD get help. This results in losing 22 veterans every day due to suicide. If people can contribute to The Warrior Connection, they are able to give back to the people who have served our country and try to help save lives.
“Being able to look at how both classes are preparing for this project has been interesting. In marketing, we are learning to create our own social media campaign and are going to evaluate how the campaign went. With this project, I can learn real-world experiences when it comes to marketing campaigns and am able to see how they work,” added Edmands, who is from Amesbury, Mass. “In LEAD, this project is creating opportunities to work as a group. To get ready for the project, we are assigning roles and discussing as a class. This is giving me real-world experience with leadership and an opportunity to see what can work with a big group and what can't. All the experience that I am learning will help me with my future career.”
In addition to the #GivingTuesday campaign, the students created the #NC22Challenge, which starts Nov. 1 and runs through the month.
It consists of people doing 22 push-ups any way they can and donating $22 or more to The Warrior Connection through its website. The number 22 represents how many veterans commit suicide—every day. Along the lines of the “Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS,” each challenge participant will post a video of themselves performing the challenge to social media and will then nominate three people to take on the challenge and also donate. Social media posts must be tagged with #NC22Challenge.
Students also explained the #NC22Challenge to the students, faculty, and staff, during their Oct. 23 presentation.
“My students think it would be great if all faculty have their classes do the #NC22Challenge during class on #GivingTuesday,” said Professor Alfaro-Barrantes.
ABOUT NICHOLS COLLEGE
Nichols College is a college of choice for business and leadership education as a result of its distinctive career-focused and leadership-based approaches to learning, both in and out of the classroom. Founded in 1815, Nichols transforms today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders through a dynamic, career-focused business and professional education. Nichols serves students interested primarily in a comprehensive business education that is supported by a strong liberal arts curriculum.
Lorraine U. Martinelle
Director of Public Relations and Social Media
Dudley, MA 01571-5000
Twitter: @NicholsNewsroom and @Nichols_College