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posted by Kevin Smith Jul 14,2016 @ 04:09PM

Loving Your Work

Our annual 24-hour pro bono marketing marathon, CreateAthon, is in the works again. We are receiving applications now for our nineteenth CreateAthon. While skills-based volunteerism existed fifteen years ago, it has been heartening to see it evolve from a concept embraced mostly by lawyers into a national business movement.

Part of that momentum is being driven by A Billion + Change, an organization leading efforts to expand the number of companies committed to skills-based and pro bono service. To date, they have engaged more than 5,000 companies of every size, industry and geography to donate over five billion dollars worth of services. The vision of A Billion + Change is to transform business culture so that all companies in America will respond to the needs of their communities.

The benefits of skills-based volunteerism are many: building morale, improving community relations and fostering leadership skills. Every year, I’m amazed at how staying up all night actually reenergizes our company. (After a recovery weekend, of course.) In fact, when I consider all that CreateAthon has meant to our business, it is difficult to imagine why one wouldn’t lend their skills to a cause. Yet I understand the excuses. “We’re too small.” “We don’t have time.” “What we do doesn’t translate well to volunteerism.”

I thought of these excuses, and how each one applied to “Get Fit for Good,” an effort by Matt Potts, a college student and trainer at Fit Columbia. “Get Fit for Good” is a pay what you want, twice-weekly workout class with proceeds benefiting Innersole, a charity providing athletic shoes to children who are homeless or in need. It’s one guy spending an hour a week doing what he loves, helping people get fit, all the while raising money for kids. Matt reminds me that many times excuses are just that, and you can usually find a way to make pro bono work.

Most companies have charitable programs in place. From blood drives to fundraising and corporate giving, it’s always meaningful to give back. But there is a unique satisfaction in knowing that the skills that provide for your family can provide for someone in need as well. It reminds you of what drew you to your field, and provides a renewed sense of energy and purpose to the work at hand. If you love what you do, figure out how to give it away ­– for good.

posted by Kelly Davis May 19,2016 @ 10:49AM

Embracing Purpose and Mission in a Rebranding Assignment

One of the most challenging assignments for brand strategists is the rebranding and renaming of an organization – particularly one that has a 20-year history and a well-defined mission among a devoted audience.

During last fall’s CreateAthon, one of our clients specifically requested a name change and new brand identity. We knew that the responsibility was a rather auspicious one, as the client was known (at the time) as the Death Penalty Resource & Defense Center.

The mission of the organization is to promote fairness, reliability and transparency in the criminal justice system for people facing the death penalty in South Carolina. They accomplish this by offering resources and support for lawyers tasked with representing a capital client; representing individual clients, including approximately one-third of the current death row inmates in our state; advocating for policy reforms; and educating the public.

What really struck us as we dove into the creative brief was the full-circle aspect of the work they do. They offer holistic representation not just to individuals facing a death sentence appeal, but also to their families. The client emphasized that the death penalty is not just an issue of criminal justice – it is one of race, ethnicity, education, mental illness, poverty and more – and that the work they do must encompass a broad continuum of societal issues while acknowledging and preserving the humanity of all involved in capital cases.

We needed to develop a name that would be memorable, easy to say and positive while providing descriptors that lend clarity and context to the organization’s work. After 24 intense hours of research, introspection and debate, we landed on:

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In addition to the new name and identity, we developed a brochure to capture their work and position the key issues for which they advocate; developed social media graphics; and provided advice on redeveloping their website.

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In the months since CreateAthon, it’s been really rewarding for us to see how deeply, passionately and enthusiastically the team at Justice 360 has embraced their new name and identity. They officially launched the new name during their annual holiday party, sharing the creative work and new focus with their closest friends and associates. That was followed by a mailing to key constituents that included a letter from their Executive Director and a copy of the new brochure. They updated their website and revamped their social media presence, demonstrating the use of purposeful content that reinforces their mission. It was particularly exciting during the current legislative session to see how the organization’s new name helped give them a stronger identity and presence in their public policy work.

This client has reminded us in many ways that it’s not only the work they do as an organization that is full circle, but the very act of rebranding is full circle as well. It’s not enough to simply change a name or put a new logo on a business card. It’s about taking that deep dive into your purpose and enabling your identity to be evident in the work you do, how you interact with others and the position that you stake out in the world.

Visit www.justice360sc.org and www.facebook.com/justice360sc to learn more.

posted by Courtney Melendez May 06,2016 @ 08:00AM

CreateAthon Magic & Miracle Workers

CreateAthon 2015 marked the eighteenth pro-bono allnighter, and my third since joining Riggs Partners. We make extra pots of coffee, round up some friends, don matching t-shirts and stay up for 24 hours cranking out as much pro-bono work as possible for a handful of nonprofits. Each year brings new challenges, rewards and memories, but this year was extra special.

I found out about HALTER and the work they do from my best friend who lives in the upstate. Their neighbor has a young daughter enrolled in HALTER’s therapeutic riding program, and my friend had been to several of their events over the years and raved about the work they do. Growing up, horses were a huge part of my life, and my youngest sister who is special needs has also benefitted from therapeutic riding in the past. So HALTER’s mission really resonates with me. That’s why, when CreateAthon applications opened, I called HALTER myself to to invite them to apply.

They asked us for help with marketing collateral for an upcoming capital campaign. Their plan was to enclose their covered arena so they could offer year-round classes and serve more riders. The campaign also hoped to add stables to house their equine therapists, or “miracle workers” as they’re affectionately called. Of the things HALTER asked our team to produce, more than anything they wanted a video. They needed help telling their story to donors capable of making a major gift; people who most likely had never experienced HALTER’s work first hand.

Producing a video on the CreateAthon timeline is a tall order. I still look back and think we were crazy for even trying, but thankfully our friends at Mad Monkey and the rest of our CreateAthon team were miracle workers of the two-legged variety. In addition to the video, we delivered a stunning new logo, identity package, case for support, t-shirts and stickers.

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We presented all that work — produced in 24 hours — in a client presentation that has gone down in CreateAthon history. Partly because my colleagues will never let me forget that I got a little choked up (okay, ugly cried) 30 seconds in.

The bigger storyline was the CreateAthon magic that was in the room that morning. We’d produced the video and it was so pure, powerful that it took our breath away. Before long, everyone was crying. To be able to give so much to a group that transforms the lives of children was an amazing gift for our creative team and one that’s really stuck with us. After we wrapped up, I didn’t stop sniffling for at least another hour or two (okay, days.)

Here’s to the wonderful team I had the pleasure of working with on this project, HALTER and the amazing work they do each day, and to the moments in life that make you ugly cry. I hope you love this video as much as we do. Before you hit play, I have a tip for you. Grab a tissue.

 

 

 

 

posted by Taylor Craig Nov 18,2015 @ 12:34PM

CreateAthon Flood Relief: Our Deepest Thanks

This year, our 18th annual CreateAthon fell just two weeks after the historic flooding that ravaged Columbia. In addition to our 24-hour pro bono marathon for eight local nonprofits, we launched a campaign to help raise money for the Central Carolina Community Foundation’s Flood Relief Fund. We called upon our friends and neighbors to donate on our behalf for each hour we’d be working during CreateAthon.

We’ve never done a fundraiser like this in association with CreateAthon, so we really didn’t know what to expect. Our best guess was that we could maybe raise $800 if each CreateAthon volunteer received just one donation of $1 per hour.

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Our families, friends and colleagues responded beyond our wildest expectations. Donations on behalf of CreateAthon volunteers combined with a matching gift from the Lipscomb Family Foundation totaled $10,617 for flood relief in the Midlands. Extraordinary!

We are so grateful for each and every person who sponsored a CreateAthoner to help raise money for this worthy cause. Gifts came from near and far – from down the street in West Columbia to as far away as Japan, and everywhere in between. Donations came not only from friends in the Columbia area, but also from people around the country who have been touched by this tragedy and who felt compelled to help us help our community.

We are absolutely astounded at the impact generated by this effort. In the immediate aftermath of the flood, we were blown away by the strength of our community and the sheer power of good that we witnessed. Weeks later, members of our community again demonstrated their ability to go above and beyond for people who have lost so much.

On November 16, Governor Haley announced her endorsement of the Community Foundation’s flood fund and renamed it One SC Flood Relief Fund. The money raised by the fund will go toward grants for nonprofit organizations that have provided relief and recovery assistance. Your donations will help provide long-term flood relief to those in need.

Once again, thank you to everyone who gave to this effort – for your support of CreateAthon and for loving our community so steadfastly.

posted by Courtney Melendez Nov 04,2015 @ 11:32AM

A Serious Case of the Feel-Goods: A CreateAthon Recap

There are certain things in this world that give me the warm fuzzies. Quality time with family and friends. Hugs from my hubs. Rainy day naps. Puppies. And CreateAthon.

 Oh CreateAthon – that crazy 24 hours akin to a youth lock-in except with piles of costumes, tons of food, way too much caffeine, and a bunch of volunteer creative rockstars. Every year it blows my mind. Inevitably somewhere around the midnight check-in the panic sets in. The “Oh my God we’re more than halfway how the heck are we going to finish what if we don’t have anything to show the client” kind of panic. So I did what any self-respecting account manager would do. I hid behind a ninja mask, and reported that we had a lot of really good ideas in the works. Which was only a half-truth. Spoiler alert: it all worked out splendidly. It always does.

It took me two full nights of sleep and the best chicken biscuit on the planet to feel normal. Now, about two weeks out I’m in the solid feel-good stage. And I’m (almost) ready to do it again. Here’s a snippet of one of the projects I had the pleasure of working on:

Able SC, a Center for Independent Living (CIL), is focused on empowering people of all ages with all types disabilities. This year, they tasked our CreateAthon team with developing a statewide campaign focused on communicating the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.

We developed a series of direct mail pieces targeted to HR & hiring managers. Our goal was to highlight the strengths that people with disabilities bring to the table, while planting a tiny seed of doubt that they may be overlooking the perfect candidate. Social media ads, and trade show banners rounded out the deliverables for this client.

 

Our friends at Able SC told our team that this is exactly what they needed, and they can’t wait to deploy the plan. Smiles all-around!

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