Category Archives: Partners

Helping Y Guides Grow

We’ve seen our fair share of great youth programs over the past 17 years of CreateAthon. This year, we’re pleased to have discovered yet another program that offers a positive experience for kids: Y Guides. Founded in 1926 by Harold Keitner, Director of the YMCA in St. Louis, Y Guides is dedicated to forging bonds between fathers and their children through dedicated time together and specific activities designed especially for them.

Nation Chief Chris Miller and his favorite Y Guides at a Longhouse camping event: daughters Eva (left) and Helen (right).

Nation Chief Chris Miller and his favorite Y Guides at a Longhouse camping event: daughters Eva (left) and Helen (right).

Inspired by Native American culture, dads and their kids form tribes and get together on a monthly basis to enjoy activities ranging from arts, crafts and outdoor exploration to discovering local, family-friendly attractions. These individual tribes combine to form a larger federation and gather from time to time for signature events such as campouts and other excursions.

Chris Miller, as Nation Chief, leads the dads in the local Three Rivers Federation. He has been involved in Y Guides for several years with his two daughters, Eva (9) and Helen (7). “I did Y Guides with my dad as a kid, and it was something really special between the two of us. It’s time that’s set aside just for dads and their kids — no relying on moms, no dropping off with other leaders. Dads are 100% responsible for the programs and for time spent with their children. I’m thankful for this time that I have with my girls, and my greatest hope is that we can make the kind of memories together that I did with my dad. I can’t imagine a greater gift than that.”

As well-established as the Y Guide program is, Chris tells us that participation in the Midlands is at an all-time low. “That’s why we applied to CreateAthon,” he said. “We know the program is growing in other similar markets, but for some reason it has dwindled here. There’s also research that shows the positive impact Y Guides has on young boys and girls as they grow. So we need to turn this enrollment trend around, and we know the CreateAthon team can help us do that.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Y Guides, help out now by spreading the word about this wonderful program for dads and their children. In the meantime, be on the lookout for more news about Y Guides and the work we’ll be doing for them during CreateAthon next Thursday, October 23. While you’re at it, check out all the national CreateAthon action that’ll be taking place next week as part of international Pro Bono Week. As an official Pro Bono Week partner, CreateAthon is bringing together 14 groups across the country that are hosting CreateAthon events next week. We couldn’t be more pleased!

The Arts Empowerment Project: Anticipating the Power of Pro Bono

I feel so energetic just being here.

I’m bowled over by their passion and thoughtfulness.

It’s already more than I ever imagined.

This was the take from Natalie Allen, founder of the Arts Empowerment Project in Charlotte, NC, in a post-briefing-meeting interview with our friends from GreyHawk Films. These generous folks were on hand to capture initial footage for a short film that will chronicle the CreateAthon experience from a nonprofit organization’s point of view. Not surprisingly, we chose to capture the briefing meeting as the nonprofit organization’s first official encounter with the CreateAthon model. We were also interested in getting Natalie’s immediate response coming out of that meeting.

“I’d heard about CreateAthon, and knew the program could be effective in helping us shape our brand strategy,” said Natalie. “But I was not expecting the depth of insightful questioning, from the need we meet in the market, to how we deliver our services and how we’re funded. I can already see that this process will facilitate a great deal more for us than developing marketing messages.”

Oh. Yeah.

We’re totally in awe of the Arts Empowerment Project, which is dedicated to helping at-risk children see new opportunities for their lives as a result of being exposed to the arts. Our CreateAthon team plans to address brand strategy, development strategy, and specific marketing and communications tactics to help the organization build scale behind its efforts.

Natalie tells us she fully recognizes the need for nonprofits to have clarity around their brand. “With information at our fingertips all the time, you really have to capture someone’s attention immediately,” she said. “I’m thrilled to have this team of professionals helping us translate what we’re all about, in a way that inspires people to respond to our cause.”

 

Natalie Allen presents the Arts Empowerment Project's mission during a fundraising event.

Natalie Allen presents the Arts Empowerment Project’s mission during a fundraising event.

 

She adds that the CreateAthon experience is well timed for her organization. “Like so many young nonprofits, we were faced with the challenge of putting all of our upfront resources into program development versus investing in brand strategy and communications,” said Natalie. “We know that both are equally important, and the gift of these marketing services through CreateAthon will take our program to the next level. We feel honored to be here, and to have been selected by the people at Riggs Partners who started the whole concept of CreateAthon.”

Telling the story of how young people can redefine their lives through the arts? The honor is all ours.

Stay tuned for more on the Arts Empowerment Program and their journey through CreateAthon, as it all unfolds during Pro Bono Week 2014.

11 Business Lessons of Our Time

 

 

I was cleaning out a bookshelf the other day when I cracked open the cover of a long-missing sketchbook, one I used for  note-taking when attending a lecture or professional gathering. The first page I saw got my attention with the first words written there:

A number of forces have turned things upside down.

Aahhh, I remembered. Early 2009, and the US Economy —and so many small businesses—were beginning to tip in crisis. Thousands of us gathered at Carolina Coliseum for a day-long lineup of motivational speakers, an event unrelated to the Recession, and yet inextricably bound to it. HP/Microsoft/Quantum’s Rick Belluzzo opened with this grand profession:

It is the most significant time of challenge in my lifetime.

In his energetic presentation, he went on to offer this counsel:

  1. Times of immense change create the greatest opportunity.
  2. Take advantage of disruption. Redefine.
  3. Think of yourself as an entity.
  4. Don’t be a victim. Things are difficult. Retool and reemerge.
  5. Always strive to make a difference. Make a permanent mark.
  6. Touch someone’s life. Believe today you can make a difference.
  7. Take on tough assignments. Risk is good.
  8. Be self aware and open to feedback.
  9. Be a leader. This requires authenticity and integrity.
  10. Take responsibility for your failures.
  11. Be soft-hearted in how you treat people. But be hard-headed about principles and results.

What powerful advice for an audience facing years of upheaval, I thought as I looked back at these notes four years later.

What powerful advice for life.

Inside Stories: Here’s What We’ve Learned

 If you don’t understand the finer points of tomato sandwich perfection or realize the necessity for a soundtrack in your life, don’t worry. Teresa Coles and Kevin Smith can tune you in to both of these things.

If you're not from the South, you may not realize what a game changer the right mayonnaise can be.

One of the best parts of working in the WECO is getting to know the other people who work here. You soon begin to see how everyone’s professional expertise is shaped, not only by education and lots of practice, but also by the little pieces of life that happened on the way here – both the serious and the whimsical.  

I recently read the partners What I’ve Learned sections of their web bios, and it made me wonder,  what other  WECOnian wisdom is out there?

Kevin Archie

Two heads really are  better than one.

Organization is the key to efficiency.

Kelly Davis

Mama always said nothing good happens after midnight.

When God closes a door, he always opens a window.

Catherine Doyle

The ultimate cure for a bad day is to drive with the windows down and the music up. Loud.

Maintain the relationships that are worth the work. Forget the ones that aren’t.

William Goodman

Be prepared.

Good things don’t come to those who wait. Good things come to those who work hard and never give up.

Andrew Norris (Our new Strategic Development Apprentice, yay!)

You don’t need to know everything about anything, just a little bit about everything.

Smart people talk. Wise people listen.

Michael Powelson

Never drink to feel better. Drink to feel even better.

Nate Puza

Stop procrastinating, and be nice to everyone.

Keely Saye

Never post anything to social media after two glasses of wine.

The day you stop learning is the day you become irrelevant.

Julie Turner

Always keep bacon in the fridge.

You have the opportunity to learn something new even if you’re just reading a cereal box.

Will Weatherly

Luck is mostly a concoction of brutally minute repetitions + long term perspective.

Teach your tongue to delight in bland, unsalted foods.

And what have I learned?

Nothing  happens the same way twice. – Narnia wisdom.

No matter how tired you are or how late it is, always wash  your face before bed. – Britney Spears wisdom.

5 Simple Lessons in Effective Communication

My husband and I were tooling around Ocracoke Island last summer when we came upon this sign. It caused such a shift in my brain I’ve remember it since.

The sign could have said: Children At Play  Or End State Maintenance Or even Nobody’s In A Hurry Here, Pal.

But none—not even the Ocracoke attitude version— would have gotten my attention as immediately. Why?

The sign offers five lessons in effective communication, all well demonstrated:

1. Get to the point.

2. Say just what you mean.

3. Use words real people use.

4. Be truthful.

5. Fight for simple.

So often, we marketers are guilty of over-complication and (worse) ambiguity. We would do well to remind each other clever is never the goal. Communication is.