This quarter, Minnesota School of Business-Richfield’s Marketing Research and Operation Management classes have partnered with Make-A-Wish Minnesota’s Swimming for Wishes fundraiser as part of MSB’s service and applied learning mission. After a previous successful partnership between Make-A-Wish Minnesota and Minnesota School of Business, the two organizations were looking for other ways to partner together – to utilize the students’ abilities and their desire to help such a wonderful cause.
The Swimming for Wishes fundraiser is a 5K open water swim down the St. Croix River. The course is a straight swim down the St. Croix River, starting in Stillwater, Minn., and finishing in Bayport, Minn. In lieu of registration fees, the swimmers are asked to donate or raise money for the organization.
“Make-A-Wish let us know what they were looking for, and the students were able to run with it,” said Jason Kriegel, instructor of the Marketing Research course.The partnership is embedded into the curriculum for the entire quarter. From day one, the Marketing Research class was transformed into a Make-A-Wish marketing research department, collecting data via qualitative and quantitative studies. The students created a survey to collect the data, using primary and secondary data, to assist in the recruitment of new swimmers for the fundraiser. In addition to creating the survey, they are working with Make-A-Wish on promotions and advertisements as well as the overall feel of the event.
“They want it to be more of a family event, so we are working with them to come up with ideas to help create that atmosphere,” Jason said. “Some of the ideas they’ve come up with is having live music at the venue as well as having a taxi service to bring the swimmers back to the event grounds.”
Dennis Gaynor’s Operations Management course is working on proposing a concept that would involve high school swim teams participating in the fundraiser. As of now, Swimming for Wishes is only for those 18 and older.
“Our class gets to start from the start,” Dennis said, explaining that while Jason’s class is working on an existing event, his own class gets to create a concept from scratch. “They are learning how to plan an event and pull it off.”
Working for a compelling cause within the classroom reiterates to the students that they are working for something bigger outside the classroom – both for Make-A-Wish and their own futures.
“I love the concept and meaning behind it,” student Hannah Schmidt said. “We are also dealing with real obstacles and bumps in the road, too, which is good experience for the real world.”
“Real life application is huge – this is what it really looks like and feels like to do a marketing research project,” Jason said. “It’s real life. It’s real time.”