Most of my weekends are spent lounging in my pajamas, drinking copious cups of coffee, and bingeing on Netflix.
But recently, I did something different during the “Weekend for Good.”
My first experience with such a beast was more than ten years ago with Publicom, an East Lansing agency, when I participated in CreateAthon. Then, for a couple of years I participated in the AIGA’s Design for Good. This year, AIGA partnered with Code Camp to present Weekend for Good.
In all three iterations the objective is the same: Bring together volunteer creatives and coders to solve a marketing problem for a non-profit organization. Perhaps they need a new identity. Or a new website. New collateral. The non-profits apply to be the client, and then teams are assembled to meet their needs.
Back when I did CreateAthon, it was 24 hours straight. You read that right. We stayed awake, if not a little punchy, from Friday at 9:00 am, to Saturday at 9:00 am when we did client presentations. My client was the Genesee County Human Society. We created a new website, and three print ads.
Design for Good wasn’t quite so taxing. Instead of 24 hours, we had 48, and were allowed (encouraged) to go home for a few hours of shut-eye. My team’s client was Well House, an organization that rehabilitates homes, and rents them to low-income clients. The exciting thing about Well House was that they were in the running for a $250,000 grant—but needed a website in order to qualify. We created a site—and they got the grant.
This time, with two groups coming together, we had the opportunity to serve 14 non-profits; some established, some new. The generous folks at Start Garden let us use their facility from Friday evening at 6:00 pm to Sunday afternoon. Seventy-two hours! A luxury. There was just one small problem. When you bring together a group of designers, and a bunch of coders, you’re missing one important element: Content writers.
But forewarned is forearmed. I knew going in that my abilities were in short supply. My first project was Casa de Esperanza, a Honduran mission group. We were fortunate to have founders Bill and Lori, and their marketing director Jordan, with us the entire weekend. Copy approval was swift, we had access to their wonderful photo library, and Tyler, a coder, created a donation calculator that is way cool.
On Saturday afternoon, I was called into another group creating a revised and updated site for Restorers, Inc., a hyper-local community empowerment organization in the Madison Square neighborhood.
Would I do it again? You bet. It’s exhausting, but exhilarating to work with very few creative constraints, and thrilling to complete the assignment within such a short timeframe. But the client appreciation is what really matters. The look of excitement when they see a new logo, brochure, or website with cool features that they can keep updated make it truly worthwhile.