Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 15 seconds

utNon-profit organizations face daily struggles in order to keep their cause alive. It is difficult to retain and engage donors and be sustainable with limited resources. Google’s AdWords alleviates some of those struggles by granting non-profits up to $10,000 a month in online advertising. But, even with monetary help most organizations don’t have the expertise to maximize results.

Julie Ferrara, a lecturer at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has mobilized students from the Business Analytics and Statistics program to help local non-profit organizations make the best use out of the advertising received from Google. The idea came after Ferrara saw the excitement from her students and the organizations when they worked with Knox Heritage in a previous class. This fall semester, Ferrara decided to focus exclusively on nonprofits for the coursework. 

“It’s an all-around rewarding experience. I have a long term vision of creating a student-run digital marketing service for nonprofits,” says Ferrara about the class assignment.

Thanks to the innovative and cutting-edge curriculum of the Business Analytics and Statistics program, students have the opportunity to donate their time to a local non-profit while being hands-on with the material learned in the classroom. Students from the Haslam College of Business at UT take the AdWords search advertising exams as their class exams, receiving certification as they pass, which only helps the student in their non-profit project.

“Running actual campaigns was a very effective method of learning the concepts of Google AdWords with the added benefit of working with nonprofits from the community. Marketing campaigns for nonprofits are often limited by resources, so I think the class was a great way to partner with the community,” Jeremy Tate, student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Local non-profits involved in the class project include The Restoration House, Legacy Parks Foundation, Joy of Music School, Hard Knox Roller Girls, Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries, Emory Valley Center, Random Acts of Flowers, and Cerebral Palsy Center.

The campaigns created for non-profits by UT’s students used data to help organizations increase awareness about their cause. Results of the campaigns were impressive. Students were able to help non-profits increase the number of visitors. Overall, the campaigns 257,682 ad impressions and 3,810 ad clicks.  Given that the majority of the campaign goals are awareness, Ferrara is very pleased with the initial results.

The non-profit, Joy of Music’s campaign was focused on creating general awareness about the non-profit, promoting a holiday event and finding more teachers for the program. The Joy of Music School saw the best performance with over 2,200 ad click and 68,000 impressions, and a click-through rate of 3.34%.

“Julie and her class showed remarkable energy and commitment from the very beginning of our relationship… They unhesitatingly went to work, asking informed questions and identifying specific areas where they knew they could make the most significant improvements for the Joy of Music School,” stated Francis Graffeo, Executive Director of The Joy of Music School.

Francis continued “[The Joy of Music School] always need more volunteer music teachers, and their work helped target and reach new prospects we would likely never have found on our own. [Students] also helped raise awareness about our main annual fundraiser using methods we had never tried. The students and their brilliant professor exceeded our expectations in many areas… We are very grateful.”

The Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, is committed to improving the world, starting with the Knoxville area. The Business Analytics and Statistics program is focused on the college’s commitment, priding itself on helping students achieve their business objectives, learning theoretical and practical applications, and producing research that can have a global impact.


Julie Ferrara,Lecturer & Business Analytics Forum Director at The University of Tennessee. Julie runs this program for the students. For more information on the Business Analytics & Statistics - Haslam College of Business program, please click here.

Last modified on Saturday, 03 January 2015
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