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Institutes of Technology Ireland
Research & Innovation

2014: Innovative social enterprise to develop a fundraising calendar

The National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) provides a comprehensive range of specialist rehabilitation services to patients from throughout Ireland who, as a result of accident, illness or injury, have acquired a physical or cognitive disability and who require specialist medical rehabilitation.

As part of her engagement with organisations in the local community, Dr. Josephine Browne, Head of the Faculty of Enterprise and Humanities, identified a collaborative opportunity with the hospital around documenting the photographic achievements of patients and staff via a fundraising calendar. Whilst there had been recognition of the potential for a project of this kind for some time, the hospital had not been able to move this forward.

A major element of the third year of the IADT Bachelor of Business in Entrepreneurship course is the undertaking of a social enterprise project. The students have experience in project planning, marketing, public relations and selling through their work in the fi rst two years of study. The social enterprise project provides them with the opportunity to develop their skills while helping others. Over the years, students have engaged with the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Markets, the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Enterprise Board, the Chinese Embassy (via a student trip to the World Expo in Shanghai) and numerous charitable organisations. The Calendar idea developed from an initiative by a former NRH patient and the hospital’s Therapeutic Recreation Service, supported by the NRH Foundation. The former patient, an accomplished photographer, offered to teach a weekly photography course to patients on a voluntary basis, and classes were then arranged. Following the success of this initiative, a digital photography competition was organised for all current and past patients nationwide, and NRH staff.

The winning entries were selected for inclusion in the calendar and the hospital then arranged for its printing. IADT’s Entrepreneurship students promoted the calendar in the media, arranged promotional events and helped to sell the calendars. The students’ efforts resulted in the sale of almost 1,000 calendars, with all proceeds raised going to the hospital.

The project yielded multiple benefits for all those involved. Patients and staff of the NRH enjoyed the fact that their photographic work was widely publicised, reaching an extensive audience. The profile of the National Rehabilitation Hospital, and the importance of its ongoing fundraising efforts, was highlighted, while significant funds were raised. IADT’s Entrepreneurship students had the opportunity to work closely with senior executives in the hospital and in supporting organisations. The team demonstrated their ability to secure coverage of the calendar in the written press, on radio, at a wide range of events and via a number of partner channels such as the Dún Laoghaire Business Association.

The project increased the students’ appreciation of the relevance of their entrepreneurial and marketing skills within an organisation such as the NRH. The project has strengthened the relationship between IADT and the National Rehabilitation Hospital, located within one kilometre of each other. This closer relationship creates an environment where future partnership opportunities are more likely to be identified and exploited. The expertise of the hospital in the area of, say, motivation, could help students significantly. Meanwhile the strengths of the IADT in the entrepreneurial area could also help patients to develop their business potential. It is therefore hoped to use such complimentary attributes to deepen the partnership through further projects in the future.


“The collaboration between the IADT students and NRH on the Marketing and Distribution of the 2013 Charity Calendar has been a hugely positive experience for the hospital. The students’ contribution to the project has helped us enormously, particularly in these times of reduced staffing at NRH. They have taken on each task with the utmost professionalism, they have been innovative, creative and hard-working in their approach and they are a great credit to IADT.”

Rosemarie Nolan National Rehabilitation Hospital

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Institute of Art, Design and Technology
Industry: Public Sector
National Priority Area: Innovation in Services and Business Processes

Conor Heagney
Faculty of Enterprise and Humanities
Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology
Kill Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin,  
T: +353-1-239 4000
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