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Skilled Volunteer Plan Wins Deakin Innovation Competition

Tuesday, 12th November 2013 at 10:32 am
Staff Reporter
A multi-faceted campaign to attract and retain retired engineers as volunteers has won the top prize for a group of post-graduate students from Deakin University in a competition to help a Not for Profit organisation maximise the social return on their operations.

Tuesday, 12th November 2013
at 10:32 am
Staff Reporter



Skilled Volunteer Plan Wins Deakin Innovation Competition
Tuesday, 12th November 2013 at 10:32 am

A  multi-faceted campaign to attract and retain retired engineers as volunteers has won the top prize for a group of post-graduate students from Deakin University in a competition to help a Not for Profit organisation achieve the maximum social return from their operations.

The winning Deakin team "Social Transformers' with SOLVE CEO Fiona Still (third from the left).

The team, which called itself Social Transformers, beat four other teams in the week long competition to assist its partnered Not for Profit Solve Disability Solutions.

The Not for Profit Challenge Workshop forms part of the 2013 Deakin Graduate School of Business Workshop for Innovation and Entrepreneurship where postgraduate students from a range of disciplines apply their thinking to challenges and issues during a week-long results-focused workshop known as WOFIE 2013.

This year’s theme was Developing Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Not for Profit sector.

Five teams of students worked together developing solutions to real life NFP organisational issues including marketing, social media, membership and fundraising.

The winning Not for Profit, Solve Disability Solutions mobilises occupational therapists and technical volunteers to make custom equipment for people with disabilities. Solve has been in operation since 1975 and was previously known as Technical Aid for the Disabled Victoria until changing its name in September this year.

“Our challenge was to prepare communication and engagement ideas to help Solve address the bottleneck it faces in these three areas – brand awareness, availability of volunteers and fundraising,” winning team spokesperson Benjamin Robinson said.

“Given Solve’s recent name change, the organisation needs to improve its profile and recognition in the community. As the demand for the custom equipment outstrips its supply, the organisation also needs to attract the skilled volunteers and greater levels of funding from reliable sources.”

The team said one of the biggest issues was to develop sustainable partnerships – partnerships with organisations that have an engineering-based workforce.

The team offered a plan in which companies could add information about Solve in their Exit packs for retiring employees allowing Solve to get a direct pathway to reach their target audience.

“To test our idea, we made initial contact with Bosch, an international engineering firm, with a strong CSR philosophy right here in Melbourne,” Robinson said.

“They were extremely receptive, especially in the idea of skilled volunteering and also agreed to add information about Solve in their Exit Packs.”

The winning team also proposed a crowdfunding campaign and a workplace giving program.

Solve Disability Solutions  said it was fortunate to be involved in the Workshop for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (WOFIE) five-day challenge.

“Solve was assigned a team of high-calibre, multi-disciplinary postgraduate students who worked together to generate ideas to help build our brand, recruit skilled volunteer and find new fundraising opportunities,” CEO Solve Disability Solutions Inc Fiona Still said.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for us to have people to look at our organisation from a different viewpoint and come up with new ideas to assist us with marketing and building our brand awareness.

“We have gained many practical suggestions that we can integrate into our present offering to add value and increase our exposure in the broader community.”  

“The quality of the work presented by the teams was of a very high standard and was a tribute to all participants involved in the event,” Professor Ross Chapman, of Deakin Graduate School of Business at Deakin University, said.

“I hope (the teams) have all taken away some valuable knowledge about the NFP sector and about teamwork, innovation and social entrepreneurship.

“Congratulations to the winning team, Social Transformers (Solve Disability Solutions), to the first runners-up, Action Potential (Eastern Volunteers), and the second runners-up, Argon (Life Activities Clubs Victoria).”

The $10,000 prize money will be distributed with $6,000 to the winning team, $3,000 to the first runner-up team and $1,000 to the second runner-up team.

Pro Bono Australia News Editor Lina Caneva was part of the judging panel.

Staff Reporter  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

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