...or how to donate services worth over $50,000 USD to three nonprofits in 24 hours.
This is the third year that we’ve hosted the verynice CreateAthon at our Downtown Los Angeles office. Participating volunteers were inspired to give back to the community by providing round-the-clock creative services to meet each organization's needs. With a lot of hard work, creative support, and drive to help support a great cause, volunteers developed 20 deliverables over the course of 24 hours. Prior to the event, verynice's team met with each organization in order to develop an appropriate scope of work.
Hour 01: Getting Started
At 10 am we kicked-off the event by greeting the nonprofit representatives, who came to present their mission and current challenges to the volunteers. After the Brief presentations the volunteers started creating teams of their preference. The nonprofit representatives stayed with their assigned project groups for about 45 minutes to answer any additional questions. This was a great time for volunteers to connect with each other and grasp a personal understanding of their assigned organization.
verynice handed each team a creative Brief outlining the needs that could be tackled over the next 24-hours. The nonprofit’s needs varied, but the majority focused on branding accompanied by a website or signage. Our goal was to give all designers the creative freedom without dictating the process. Each team was encouraged to explore whichever route they felt was appropriate and determine how the team dynamic worked or what parts of the brief they wanted to tackle first. About 4 hours in, verynice members did casual check-ins with teams to see where they were at.
There was a variety of approaches taking place. Some teams were still exploring ideas, while others were heavy into research or creating content for their deliverables.
Hour 07: Group Critiques
Around 4:00 PM, the first round of group critiques began. For these presentations, teams were encouraged to share their progress as well discuss their next steps. Team members gave each other feedback and suggestions on how to tackle the challenges they were facing. The verynice members also participated in this creative exchange, offering support and professional expertise in various fields such as design strategy, art direction, or time management. The state of progress varied and while some volunteers were finalizing the sitemap, others were wrapping their heads around the mission statement. Everyone was motivated and very excited about finding solutions and providing tools that would help the beneficiaries in the future. Each team received rich feedback to move forward with.
Hour 08: Networking goes through the stomach
After the first round of group critiques it was time for a break. As a group we set out for local food at Wurstküche to unwind and have fun. Dinner became a time for reflection and further connecting across the teams. The group was diverse in age and specialization which made the networking opportunity so much more valuable!
The 3-hour break was just enough to re-energize each volunteer to focus on the next sprint, followed by an hour long group activity to keep the spirits high and the body awake. To get the blood circulation going each volunteer showed off his or her favorite dance move performed to the tunes of Destiny’s child. After this rather hilarious experience we rolled dice from Matthew Manos’s impressive collection and shared among each other a number of personal trivia, providing a good dose of laughter.
Hour 17: Coffee, coffee, more coffee
By 3:00 AM, the atmosphere changed from focused to sleepy and so a few minutes before the second round of critique was reminiscent of a rejuvenation fairytale. At this point, many ideas had transformed into a more concrete direction. The teams were advised on small issues but all in all everyone had a solid understanding of what needed to be done. Fueled by excessive amount of coffee the last 4-hour long sprint was as one would imagine - mellow, almost delirious, and yet very determined! One extra hour was dedicated to refinement and preparation of the deliverables and after that it was time to present the fruits of this creative challenge.
Hour 23: Breakfast + the Grand Finale
At 9 a.m. with the arrival of each nonprofit beneficiary, breakfast was served. Despite the weariness from each volunteer, there was a positive and fearless attitude. Shortly after 9:30 AM we kicked off presentations for the nonprofits. It was a celebratory moment filled with many emotions.
The Arlington Garden team started the presentation round delivering a refined Mission statement that captured the essence of this public garden operating on sustainable principles right to the point! Hai and Michael further presented the various design deliverables ranging from the Garden’s entrance sign, a standing map with legend (which included the garden’s history), Garden Etiquette as well as Landmark and Information signage. They also provided a revised Brochure that felt clean and aligned with the newly refined visual language.
The next team to present was Dwelle Collaborative. This very talented team of three (Julia, Kristen and Bridget) presented Dwelle with a re-designed brand guidelines and a re-imagined website that showcased how well the volunteer team understood the nonprofit’s mission and current offerings. The navigation was made more clear and the content is now easily accessible to the audience. The website is nearly ready to go live and we are excited to see the impact this will make in further fighting human trafficking!
Vets Whole in One received an incredible package of deliverables that will no doubt aid their mission of supporting veterans who acclimate to their warm community. Marina, Soo and Kathy presented a brand re-design with brand guidelines, a (now live!) website filled with professional imagery from the non profit’s archive, as well as a re-designed flyer & donation form. Lastly, the volunteer team went above and beyond by thinking through a marketing strategy to set the organization up for further success in the future.
Hour 24: Sleep, Sweet Sleep
By the end of the presentations, everyone was both excited about the work they had produced, and eager to get some well deserved rest. All the satisfied smiles of each beneficiary made this experience a very rewarding one and we couldn’t be happier that the event was so successful yet again!
Arlington Garden in Pasadena
“The Createathon was a uniquely dedicated experience of having talented folks, design for 24 hours straight. Sometimes the intensity of a short deadline can act like a pressure cooker to focus on answers to design problems. What are the most immediate needs and how do we deliver design solutions? I was very impressed with the process, and results of the Createathon and your staffs' ability to facilitate real solutions in such a short timeframe. What an incredible experience both for us, the client and the volunteers! Thank you verynice for providing the opportunity for us to receive such invaluable gifts for our nonprofit.”
Michelle Matthews, Executive Director
“I was impressed by the design team who was able to understand the essence of Dwelle and am grateful for their dedication, hard work and service to enhance our online presence.”
Esther Suh, Co-Founder
Vets Whole in One
“Working with everyone at verynice was a wonderful experience! We at Vets Whole in One are extremely fortunate for this opportunity. Very professional! Thank you.”
Jim Dennerline, President
“We walked in not knowing what we were getting into. From the moment that we arrived, we were greeted with warmth, enthusiasm and professionalism. The experience of working with the staff & volunteers at verynice and the end result far exceeded our expectations. One of my teachers once said to me, 'When working with other people, they should walk away with their magnificence, not yours.' Great Job. Thank you from all of us at Vets Whole In One.”
Stephen Islas, Board member
“The team at verynice was very professional and extremely kind. Vets Whole in One sends a huge THANK YOU for all the hard work and dedication shown to our organization. As beneficiaries of the CreateAthon event, we quantum leaped forward on our Mission to help save returning combat veterans lives.”
Alex Rogers, Advisory board
Credits: Nonprofits and Volunteer Teams
Agnesa Vavrinova, our Volunteer-In-Residence, provided Creative Direction for the initiative and teamed up with verynice's Operations Manager, Clarisa Valdez, to make this event possible, benefiting three local nonprofits in the Los Angeles area.
Arlington Garden in Pasadena is a three acre garden leased to the City of Pasadena and entrusted by the city to the Arlington Garden non-profit. The mission of this free public garden is to engage, educate and demonstrate how a climate appropriate garden can be beautiful while incorporating the goals of water conservation and community building around sustainability. Volunteers: Michael Rosales, Hai Vo
Dwelle Collaborative is an occupational therapy-based non-profit that focuses on female survivors (18+) of human trafficking. Dwelle’s main service offering is a 12-week program that adopts a holistic approach to helping women in their final stages of recovery heal their mind, body, and spirit. Dwelle’s vision is to be a support system and transform these women’s lives, so they are able to integrate into the life / work community successfully. As a result, their clients grow strong soft skills, build up their resumes, and propel their careers. Volunteers: Julia Kang, Bridget Macario, Kristen Torralba
Vets Whole in One is a non-profit that focuses on helping returning combat veterans assimilate back to daily civilian life through the teachings of mindful meditation applied in the game of golf. Donation financed events and clinics are organized on a regular basis every 2-3 weeks. Here the veterans learn the basics of meditation followed by a stretching exercise, a golf play and a buffet. In the future the Vets Whole in One team plans to expand the meditation sessions offer. Volunteers: Soo Goo, Kathy Hoang, Marina Terteryan