Dec. 2, 2020
Joe Benyish & Jenn Hanner, Salisbury University (MD)
When the semester began, we had to take a hard look at the type of programming we could do during the COVID-19 pandemic. While we are still in-person, many of the classes on our campus are being held virtually. This left us with the same problem that many other campuses are having… HOW do we offer programming for students living on campus, students living at home, and students living off-campus, but in town?
In the past, we used to do a novelty activity (“Make & Take”) once a month - sometimes with some great success, but sometimes a total bust. We had been doing some research and saw that many other schools had changed their novelty activities to a “Take & Make” concept - which we thought was genius during a pandemic; so, thank you to those of you who posted about that. We quickly brainstormed some Take & Make ideas that many companies were offering for the first six weeks of the semester because, at the time, we thought we wouldn’t last on-campus even that long. We used our NACA resources (including NACA® 24/7) to explore the options that exist. We found tons of great bulk ship ideas for students on campus and individually shipped ideas for those who live at home.
From there, we contacted the associate members who we have great relationships with to discuss what kind of options we had. During those first six weeks, we had great success with our Take & Makes because it offered low-risk opportunities for students to have something to do on their own. Because we’re on the shore, we do all of our pick-up locations outside, which has helped lower our level of risk.
As the end of the first six weeks drew closer, and because we had such great success, we decided to add three additional weeks of Take & Makes, and then another additional three weeks as time went on. This led us to a Take & Make series that has happened each week from the first day of classes to Thanksgiving break. As the series went on, we learned a few things that we think would be helpful for others to consider:
Marketing - You need to find some great ways to market these events to students. Regular scheduling helps students know to look out for them. We also add all of them to our Campus Labs Engage site, have series posters, and post consistently on social media.
- We use our distribution table each week to market upcoming Take & Makes, and other additional events that we have happening virtually and in-person - be smart, don’t just hand them out… engage with the students and tell them about other opportunities!
Social Media Engagement - We decided to use t-shirt incentives to encourage students to share their final Take and Make projects with us on our Instagram account, and then we select several t-shirt winners each week. This has been helpful in helping us grow our social media engagement and has increased our followers, which allows them to see our additional programming happening on campus.
Variety - Most of our Take and Makes have been successful, but not complete sell-outs. Some of our most popular Take and Makes have been succulents, cacti, paint by number, and macrame luminaries. Our biggest recommendation would be to make sure you have a variety of kits throughout your series so that all types of students are hopefully interested in at least one or two of the series. Some students are excited about all of them and start forming a line before the event even begins. It might also be a great opportunity to survey students about what types of Take and Makes they would be interested in which is something we may consider for the spring!
Overall, our Take and Make series has been pretty successful, and I have to thank our associate member friends who have worked tirelessly to come up with solutions for those of us at schools. Without the hard work and dedication they have put into these types of programs, we would likely be trying to piece it together on our own, or finding ourselves unable to do any of these kinds of events at all. I encourage everyone to explore NACA ® 24/7 and the types of events that exist for schools during this unprecedented time in higher education. I also encourage you to have conversations with Associate members about solutions and brainstorm ideas on how they can help you. I know that I wholeheartedly appreciate my circle of Associates and how they have come to my rescue so much this semester -- especially our novelty companies!
Joe Benyish serves as a coordinator of Student Life at Salisbury University (MD) and National Block Booking Coordinator. Jenn Hanner is a coordinator of Student Life at Salisbury University (MD).
Related Professional Competencies: Event Support, Technology
Looking for more Take & Make Ideas? Virtual NACA® Live will feature a new showcasing opportunity for artists and companies to display their make and take products, programs, and services, called “Make & Take Hour.” Each day of Virtual NACA® Live you’ll have the opportunity to see these artists and companies live and potentially book them for your campus. Learn more about this exciting new component of Virtual NACA® Live and more at naca.org/nacalive.