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16 July 2021 | Münster/Ennepetal

Cancer - this diagnosis alone is a shock for those affected and their relatives. When children are affected - in Germany, around 1,800 a year in their first 15 years of life - the blow is particularly severe for the parents. In addition, there are often existential problems, such as when one parent has to interrupt or even give up work. The Henri Thaler Association in Ennepetal is committed to helping those who suffer, especially financially. This association is well known in the region, but hardly beyond. And because events with bake sales and sponsored runs had to be cancelled for a long time during the pandemic, donations also failed to materialise. A team of seven students (doctoral, master's and bachelor's students) from the Münster School of Business at the FH Münster University of Applied Sciences has developed a concept for digital fundraising to prepare the association for these phases and beyond.

Master's student Luise Henßler led the student team, including Luis Wulfert. (Photo: Münster University of Applied Sciences/Anne Holtkötter)

"To integrate social engagement more strongly into our teaching is our goal.", tells junior professor Dr. Kerstin Kurzhals, head of the Science-to-Society research line from the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre. "It is important to us that the students are interested in societal and social problems and acquire the necessary know-how for this already during their studies and ideally bring this directly into application. " Under the project leadership of doctoral students Katrin Uude and Annika Wesbuer, as well as under the coordination of Master's student Luise Henßler, the Bachelor's students first researched what options there are for soliciting donations.

The decision to develop a digital campaign was made immediately. "We did not even consider any other option under the Corona conditions," Henßler reports. Moreover, the association had to think in the long term, beyond the pandemic. An online strategy, as the interviews with fundraising experts showed and many good examples in Germany and worldwide prove, is absolutely necessary. The students summarised the central results for the Henri Thaler Association as follows: Personal stories, a high level of transparency and the willingness to always involve donors are needed. Partnerships with companies as well as cultural and sports organisers are important. The students recommend switching to digital events and being present on all digital platforms - especially social media, especially Instagram, is indispensable. The largest platform in the field of online fundraising is gofundme. Using the hashtag HändeFürHenri, the students tested their campaign there. With a good social media concept, the students are sure that the potential of future campaigns of the association can be better exploited, the number of donations would increase and the association would become more visible - beyond the borders of Ennepetal.

Dr Kerstin Kurzhals, head of the Science with and for Society team, and the doctoral students Annika Wesbuer and Katrin Uude accompanied the semester project of the students, among them Luis Wulfert and Luise Henßler (from left). (Photo: Münster University of Applied Sciences/Anne Holtkötter)

Now the association's board will take a close look at the results of the research and the recommendations. "We are confident that we can and must adopt some of this in order to ultimately be able to help more people," says association chairperson Edda Eckhard. "In any case, we'll stay in touch, and I'll keep you informed of every partial step we take." Students also benefit from this project. "I am involved on a voluntary basis, but what was new for me was being able to lead a team and bear all the responsibility for it," concludes Luise Henßler. "It was time-consuming, but I put my heart and soul into the project". Luis Wulfert "was attracted by several aspects: the focus on online marketing and fundraising, the social aspect of supporting people in need - and the practical side of it, namely testing whether what we developed theoretically works. And it did! "

On the subject: The Henri-Thaler-Verein e. V. sees itself as an association to support children, adolescents and young adults with cancer. This is the third Science with and for Society project: In the first one, business administration students developed a financing model for the Pelikanhaus in the Clemenshospital Münster, the second concept served to make the Kinderneurologie-Hilfe Münster e.V. better known.

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