IMC 354: Nonprofit Marketing Communications is an integrated marketing communications course offered to junior and senior students in the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media.
It is an elective course that focuses on the way nonprofit organizations communicate and the strategies they use to reach their target publics. It examines the way these nonprofit organizations promote their missions and obtain contributions, such as money and time to their causes.
This spring semester, the IMC 354 Section 1 class, taught by professor Evangeline W. Ivy, is working on putting together a marketing campaign for five different nonprofit organizations. There are five different groups in the class with five members in each group.
The organizations they are working with are Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital, Bass Camp Coding Academy, Mississippi MUTTS, The Or Project and The B.B King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center.
The goal of these campaigns is to promote an event for an organization, host a fundraising campaign or host a volunteer recruitment campaign. Included in each project is a creative brief, a marketing communications plan and design/layout for your promotional vehicles, such as social media, direct mail, etc.
Each organization represents different needs in Mississippi, such as health, animals, music/arts, education and community issues. The students in the class presented a nonprofit they believed in out of one of the above categories. Then the rest of the students voted on which nonprofit they believed would be most appropriate to develop a campaign for.
“I really enjoyed that professor Ivy gave us an opportunity to work on causes we really believe in,” said Ferrell McCAuley, a senior IMC student. “It makes it so much easier to make others feel passionate about a cause if you really believe in the work you’re doing.”
Ferrell is in the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital group and is currently working on press releases, survey, focus group questions and a creative brief to help Batson raise money for their new pediatric intensive care unit.
“Batson still needs $40 million to buy all the medical equipment necessary for the PICU to be up and running,” Ferrell said.
Georgia Graves, a senior IMC student, is in the Mississippi MUTTS group, an animal foster group in Oxford. They place dogs in foster homes until they are placed in their forever homes. They are currently working on survey and focus group questions, direct mail pieces and social media posts to better reach their target market of college students.
“We are working on putting together an event at Harrison’s Bar where people can bring their own dogs, and we will have fosters there to hopefully get attention and awareness for our foundation,” Grave said. “MUTTS really needs more people to foster, so we hope this event will bring out a large crowd.”
Bass Camp Coding Academy is an organization that provides recent Mississippi high school graduates with a free technical training program. They learn how to code, use compute programs and develop skills necessary to work in the technological field upon graduation.
The group working with this organization is working on putting an event together in Water Valley, Mississippi to gain more sponsors to pay future students’ tuition for the academy. They are writing press releases and using social media to promote the event.
The Or Project is based out of Jackson, Mississippi and helps women escape sex trafficking. They have safe homes around the area and provide women and their children food, clothing and housing while they try to regain their lives.
The group working with this organization is working on direct mail letters, promotional posts and focus group questions. They are trying to raise money to build The Well, which would be located in Jackson and would house offices and a community center.
The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center aims to unite and inspire people through music. The group working with their organization is trying to use promotional items to get people to attend their annual music festival.
“Right now, we are trying to get new people to attend the festival,” said IMC major Carlie Tate. “Since the festival has been going on for 39 years, the museum has a loyal following. What we’re really focused on is sending out direct mail, surveys and social media posts to reach a new audience that hasn’t been reached before.”
During class time, each group gets a chance to present different projects and ideas they have been working on. Other students and professor Ivy offfer feedback to help improve each other’s work to make it as professional as possible.
“I love how much real world experience I am gaining while still having a professor to guide me through and help me perfect my work,” said McCAuley.
Tate added: “It’s really helped me grow my team work skills. I’m normally a person who likes to do projects alone, but this has forced me to work in a group, which I know I’ll need to do in the professional working world.”