Professor fundraises by live streaming marketing course

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Photo Courtesy of Mark Wolters

Professor Mark Wolters stands in front of his streaming set up

By Aliza Majid, Staff Writer

Mark Wolters, professor in Business, streamed the entirety of his marketing course in one sitting to raise money for the University’s Emergency Dean Fund.

“I was like, ‘I’m not a doctor, so I can’t save lives and I can’t stock shelves to help people out.’ So, I thought I could teach my marketing class,” Wolters said. “I thought, ‘you know what, let’s do a marathon. Let’s see if we can raise the money for the Emergency Dean Fund and have some fun with it.’”

The Emergency Dean Fund was created in 2009 to provide urgent assistance for students facing serious hardships. The Student Assistance Center in the Office of the Dean of Students is in charge of the fund.

The stream took place on Professor Wolters’s YouTube channel for business videos and got around 5,900 views. Over 15 hours and 43 minutes of streaming, Wolters was able to raise $1,636 for the Emergency Dean Fund. 

Wolters decided to help those who needed support by organizing this stream for his BADM 320: Principles of Marketing class. The donations were going towards the Emergency Dean Fund because Wolters wanted to support students who need help during this pandemic directly.

“There are so many students that need help, and I think (the Emergency Dean Fund is) a fund that not a lot of people think about,” Wolters said. “So, I felt that that was the best way that I can help all Illinois students possible.”

Wolters streamed BADM 320 on his channel because it is a basic marketing course that people may find useful, especially during this pandemic, as many individuals try to find new jobs and help their businesses.

“It’s something that anybody can use, no matter what your major is, no matter what your job is. You always can use some kind of marketing,” Wolters said. “So, if we could give some ideas to people, because we had people that weren’t my students that were all there saying, this is great for my business.”

The stream began getting a lot of attention after it got on the front page of YouTube. Wolter said some users who came into the stream just wanted to mess around and troll the stream but it only fueled the participants to donate more despite their remarks.

“We had a few donors who were like, ‘every time we got a troll, I’ll give another ten bucks,’” Wolters said. “People like paying when the trolls would be on there, so it got to be a really fun atmosphere and it was funny.”

As the view count and donations began to rise, the stream eventually got the attention of various students, professors and administrators at the University. Many wanted to take part in the engaging environment and support Wolters’s effort.

“Angie (from Student Affairs) got on and started giving us a rolling tally like every hour,” Wolters said. “So, whenever she got on there, we all started cheering and it kept driving you to push forward. I’m getting like goosebumps now thinking about it.”

Angie Dimit, chief advancement officer for Student Affairs, joined the stream after she saw the online donations mentioning Wolters’ stream and she decided to update the live stream with the donation amounts in increments of $100. 

“I was so excited because when you’re doing crowdfunding, it’s really important to keep people inspired and keep people engaged,” Dimit said. “People give because they want to be a part of making a difference and to watch the dollars go up makes you feel good about the difference you’re making.”

Dimit said the stream was a beneficial event that raised awareness about a cause that would benefit students during this difficult time. Since there are people who don’t know about the Emergency Dean Fund, she was glad this event had an impact on the community and helped people contribute.

“I think his marathon idea was really important because it was lighthearted. It was different,” Dimit said. “You know, at this particular time, people are remote and there’s not a lot of human interaction. It gave people something fun to be a part of.” 

The marketing marathon stream was well-liked by the College of Business and Student Affairs because of the large turnout and the money it raised. Wolters hopes to continue this effort in the future, as it seemed beneficial for everyone involved.

“I would like to hopefully do this again in the future so we can raise the money for the emergency fund, like make it kind of a yearly thing,” Wolters said. “Maybe we can have it where multiple professors are coming in and they can bring in all kinds of professors and make it kind of a fundraiser for the whole university.”

The marketing marathon’s first 11 hours and 55 minutes are still available on Wolters’s YouTube page for reference and the Emergency Dean Fund is still accepting donations for the future.

“I just think it’s really important for everyone who contributed to know that they are making a difference and the power of all gifts is one of the most important messages,” Dimit said.

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