How I Learned Organisational Behaviour by Doing a Charity Project

Hello everyone! I am Kelly and I’m studying economics. This is my 3rd year in university.

This year we had to pass a course called Human Resources Management and Organisational Behaviour. On 17 September we found ourselves facing a charity project. Maaja Vadi, the professor who was going to give us lectures about organisational behaviour, told us that this year students had to participate in a charity project and would therefore get homework points. We were like, “OK, we can do it”, and started to form groups with friends. Then suddenly one of the coordinators of the project said, “Calm down, we have already put each and every one of you into a group”. Then there was a sudden silence. Someone said, “That’s not fair – we will never get this done with people we don’t know”. We had like 60 people participating in this project.

So, our first assignment was to go (with our team) and choose things ourselves which we wanted to collect. We were told that we must not buy any of them by ourselves, all had to be collected from someone else. My team chose to collect different games: board games, cards, etc. There were 6 different types of things in total which we could choose for ourselves: tea packs, socks, games, cooking ingredients (flour, oil), drawing and handicraft things, and sweets. Every type could be chosen by two teams. So we had a challenging moment too: who would be the first to contact bigger companies, because the probability was that when a big company (like Kalev, for example) donated to one group, the other would end up empty handed.

team members Kelly Saar and Kadri Kõivik

Kadri Kõivik and I (on the left) with the donated games at the Võru Street wood workshop. Image from a personal archive

My team consisted of me +4 other economics students. I was the initiator in my group: I formed a group on Facebook (all our conversations were held there) and started to motivate others to make a quick start with the project. We agreed that everyone in our group would put a post on Facebook introducing the charity project and what we needed. We also wrote letters to companies like Apollo, RahvaRaamat, Jukukeskus, and Ludo. We got 6 games from Apollo; the other companies didn’t even send a rejection letter. By 30 October we were done with the project and were ready to show others our results in the seminar on 19 November.

Receiving a donation from Apollo

Apollo’s representative (on the left) passes the donation to student Jaanus Mets. Image from a personal archive

9 puzzles from a private donor

We received these 9 puzzles from a private person. Image from a personal archive

We had to collect 9 games, but we got 32, including 9 puzzles, games made of wood, UNO cards, and so on. At first we thought that “Estonians won’t give us a thing, because we, Estonians, like to keep away from charity as such”. Our surprise was great when we got so much feedback from people who wanted to help us.

We didn’t have many problems in our group. I knew 2 of 4 people. However, we weren’t friends who talked every day, just acquaintances. One member in our team did not do anything: he just read our posts and never answered – a real social loafer. So we didn’t even put his name on our presentation and report.

At the beginning we thought that the whole project was just a thing we needed to do to get our homework points – a duty. As time went on and we got so many things, we thought that it was nice to do something for the greater good. The final emotion came from the last seminar, when we met in person with parents whose kids are there in Imastu home-school. It was so very heartwarming, especially because I knew one parent from my high school times and I didn’t know he had to cope with such a tragedy (his kid had been playing with others and fell so hard that he had hurt his head very badly).

The people from Imastu offered us all a chance to go and spend a day with those who were there. But, I must say, as much I would like to go and help, it is almost impossible now, because we have such busy times in university and we also have to do our bachelor’s paper.

But it was a good feeling to help those in need. I just wish that people could do more, be more, and that they would help others, especially kids, because they don’t have the opportunity to make something better themselves.

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