Guest Post by Deborah Chen – University of Pittsburgh

Debbie Chen - University of Pittsburgh Senior

Debbie Chen – University of Pittsburgh Senior

As a senior in the University of Pittsburgh, I am a few months away from fending for myself financially. My classmates and I are on the perpetual hunt for a job that puts ramen on the table. Phone bills, car bills, medical bills, and rent—the need for money is daunting. While I majored in business because I wanted to support myself, a good salary can only motivate me so much.

When Mr. Bibhuti Aryal from the Rukmini Foundation came into my services marketing class last Wednesday, he brought with him the reminder that business can bring change, not just financial security. With both passion and professionalism, Mr. Aryal spoke about working for nonprofits, such as the Rukmini Foundation, which provides education to underprivileged girls in Nepal. It didn’t matter that I slept at 5 am last night. I was riveted as he showed us picture after picture of the girls whom the Foundation supported.

I wasn’t the only one. When Mr. Aryal asked the class which nonprofits they cared for most, multiple students volunteered. Reasons for our answers were often relational and personal. And of course they would be. “X foundation, because my parents were affected by that illness. Y nonprofit, because my family and I have been supporting it for years.” Relationships and personal values drive the nonprofit world.

To put our education into practice, Mr. Aryal then asked, “What marketing techniques can the Rukmini Foundation use to gain repeat or sustained support?”

“Have the girls tape a day-in-the-life-of clip for financial supporters, so they can know the girls on a more personal level.”

“Increase the number of people who Like the Foundation’s Facebook Page.”

“Team up with a for-profit corporation who will agree to match gifts in kind.”

The answers and creativity bounced from classmate to classmate. We loved the challenge, and we loved the idea of changing the world through business. Mr. Aryal encouraged us and heard us out. I find it worthwhile to note that while the Rukmini Foundation teaches its girls in Nepal, it was also teaching us here at Pitt.

while the Rukmini Foundation teaches its girls in Nepal, it was also teaching us here at Pitt

After such an engaging class, I was left to reflect more on the idea of business and what it means for our futures. I firmly believe that it isn’t only the paycheck that sustains our drive to succeed. That goes for the for-profit world as well. The Apple Company doesn’t think about the paycheck at the end of the day—it thinks of the innovations that change how people communicate and work. Disney’s mission statement centers on being “one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.” There is something more—something tangible—in using business to build a network directed towards a primary goal. Profit is important, but it isn’t the heart of business. Mission is.

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