by Joe Laufer, Mariëlle Winkler, Djoerd Hiemstra, and Susanne de Gooijer (Free Spirits UniTe)
Many employees of the University of Twente spend part of their free time on volunteer projects that are directly beneficial to society. They use their expertise and professional knowledge for instance by teaching children, by lecturing students in developing countries, by supporting elderly with new technology, or by rewriting an NGO's strategic plan. These employees struggle allocating enough free time for their volunteer work, whereas others might not need all their vacations days. Our proposal is simple: Employees can take their vacation days, and give them to employees that are in need because of their volunteer work. Our proposal extends the university's vision “the entrepreneurial university” to explicitly support projects with societal impact. We envision the following steps:
- Employees initiate projects that have societal impact and ask support of the campus community;
- Employees can donate one or more vacation days to become part of the community, and to form a pool of additional free time, to be used by the project initiators;
- Project initiators pitch their ideas to the community, similiar to pitches for crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter;
- The community can vote for the projects of their choice;
- Once enough vacations days are donated to an initiative, the project initiator can use the extra time off to carry out their initiative (in addition to the time that the employee already puts in their initiative);
- Students can participate in projects for credits (starting with building an on-line community platform);
- Alumni can sponsor intiatives financially, share their network, and coach the project initiators;
- Project initiators share their experience and accomplishments to the community, for instance by blogging about their project;
- Initiatives should be done in cooperation with an NGO.
We are proud that our proposal is accepted as one of the Living Smart Campus projects.