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Anonymous Donor Makes Executive MBA Student Pitches Matter for Nonprofits

By Keith Morelli

Russell Clayton

TAMPA (October 12, 2021) -- Students in the Muma College of Business Executive MBA program learn the intricacies of leadership, the value of human resources, a bit of accounting and information systems and the latest trends in marketing. Russell Clayton is offering a chance to learn about giving back.

With the funds donated from an anonymous philanthropist, Clayton, who teaches an Executive MBA course in communications, has come up with a way to have his class, made up of business professionals, hone their marketing skills and give something of themselves in the process.

The gift of $7,000, which was donated through the USF Foundation, is the key to the success of what has been named  the Tampa Bay Giveaway.

“The idea for this came from a small assignment I sometimes do in class,” Clayton said. “In this assignment, students create a two-minute talk where they try to persuade me to donate $20 to a Tampa Bay non-profit. The class selects one winner and I make the $20 donation.

“The donor liked the idea and wants to see more non-profits benefit,” Clayton said. “As such, the donor made the generous $7,000 gift for this event.”

Here’s how it works:

Thirty-five students in the class will deliver persuasive TED Talks-style speeches later  this month pitching a Tampa Bay area non-profit of their choosing. The class will then vote on which speeches are the most persuasive in making them want to donate to that particular charity.

“Each EMBA student selected a nonprofit from the Tampa Bay region that resonated with their personal values, or in some cases, a non-profit that has provided assistance to their family,” Clayton said.

The winners split the $7,000, first-place gets $2,500; second-place, $2,000; third-place, $1,500 and two honorable mentions get $500 each. That money will then be donated to the non-profit those winning students pitched.

“Our EMBA students did a fantastic job of preparing their talks,” Clayton said. “Each one used a heavy dose of storytelling while also incorporating relevant statistics as well as best practices related to nonverbal communication.

“While these speeches are certainly graded, they also are a very hands-on, real-world application related to persuasion,” he said. “The students will earn a grade for their talk while also competing for actual money to be donated to their charity of choice.”