Princeton, NJ (May 14, 2013) A panel from VolunteerConnect, Central New Jersey’s volunteer center, judged proposals for advertising campaigns this week from four competing student teams at Mercer County Community College. The students’ proposals aimed at helping VolunteerConnect promote skills-based volunteering; a form of volunteering that applies volunteers’ professional skills to help nonprofit organizations advance their missions.
The winning team, including Maheen Ahmed, AnnaBorowska, Jarrett Case and Jaclyn Solarski, presented the idea of “Opportunities for Skilled Professionals: Connect with the Community.” “The concept was very direct and engaging,” states Amy Klein, executive director of VolunteerConnect. “All the student presentations were outstanding and professional, but this team had the clearest message about the benefits of skills-based volunteering, targeting the professionals we’d like to engage.”
VolunteerConnect promotes skills-based volunteering as a way for professionals who are employed, retired, in life transitions or at home with children, to use their skills, experience or education to make an impact at community organizations. They provide expertise in areas like marketing, finance, strategic planning or website design, saving staff time and allowing nonprofits to direct their funds to client services.
Tina LaPlaca, a member of the Liberal Arts & Communications faculty at Mercer County Community College, has been conducting this student competition with her Advertising Design classes for 19 years. “The students love having a real-life experience and coming up with creative concepts that can be used by actual nonprofit organizations like VolunteerConnect.” The student presentation included concepts for newspaper ads, brochure designs, transit posters, Facebook, promotional items and more. The competition encourages students to unleash their creative potentials and to connect them to real world applications. “Their work can make a difference,” LaPlaca states.
VolunteerConnect used a skills-based volunteer as a consultant for this project. Marketing professional Ann Kovalick helped the students tailor marketing strategies and plan their presentations. Kovalick states that as a stay-at-home mom with a long career in professional marketing, “it was fun and rewarding to share my knowledge with the students and to help ensure that VolunteerConnect received a solid advertising campaign. I would absolutely do it again.”
“We were grateful to be chosen as the focus of this year’s competition,” Klein states. “The students provided us with designs to promote an important form of volunteering, and we showed these future professionals that their talents are valuable to their communities.”
The winning designs will be used in future skills-based volunteer promotions for VolunteerConnect.
Seated Left to Right – VolunteerConnect Board Members Heidi Joseph, Robin Fogel, Phyllis Frakt, Elsie Sheidler, Friend of VolunteerConnect, Matthew Winkel
Standing Left to Right – Student Jarrett Case, Student Anna Borowska, Skills-Based Volunteer Ann Kovalick, VolunteerConnect Executive Director Amy Klein, MCCC Faculty Tina LaPlaca, Student Jaclyn Solarski, Student Maheen Ahmed