Marketer wins gong for engaging volunteers

University of Wollongong researcher Dr Melanie Randle has won an international award for her research into marketing that really makes a difference.

Dr Randle isn't interested in marketing campaigns to promote new brands or products - she's more concerned with marketing that achieves good social outcomes.

Specifically her research looks at how marketing can help foster-care and volunteer organisations find the best carers and volunteers, and keep them.

This research has led to the senior research fellow at UOW's School of Management and Marketing receiving an Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy (ANZMAC) award.

The ANZMAC Emerging Researcher of the Year award is highly competitive and attracts nominations from universities across the world.

"It's great to get recognition for my research. People typically associate marketing with commercial marketing issues - such as selling products or advertising," Dr Randle said.

"My focus is on the social side of marketing. For instance my research on volunteering is about trying to understand the range of reasons that people volunteer.

"The research can then be used by volunteering organisations to design advertising and marketing campaigns that promote the particular aspects of the volunteering experience that are attractive to particular parts of the community.

"This will hopefully increase the number of people engaged in volunteer activities which has so many advantages not just to these organisations, but to individuals and the whole community."

Dr Randle's research is already benefiting Illawarra organisations such as Bushcare Wollongong, an environmental volunteer organisation run by Wollongong City Council.

"Bushcare has been able to use my research to run a campaign which has helped them achieve their goal of around 300 volunteers," she said.

"Now it is using my research into what types of volunteering experiences people want, to develop support programs to get them to stay."

CareSouth, a not-for-profit organisation which provides a range of services in the Illawarra and the southern region including foster care, is another organisation benefiting from Dr Randle's research.

"My foster care research looks at what types of people make good foster carers, which has helped organisations like CareSouth design targeted marketing strategies to reach those particular types of people," she said.

Dr Randle said volunteering and foster care organisations typically had minimal budgets to conduct their own research or marketing.

"Providing them with the findings of my research allows them to use whatever budget they have more effectively," she said.

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