One Good Idea: Overnight Sensations
If you’re a nonprofit fundraiser, you could have your wildest dreams come true. Well, at least your wildest marketing concepts. For free.
CreateAthon is an annual, 24-hour creative blitz in which ad agencies and design firms across the nation work pro bono for nonprofit organizations, providing them with professional marketing services that they otherwise might not be able to afford.
The program — celebrating its 10th anniversary this year — was founded by Cathy Monetti, president and creative director of RIGGS, a Columbia, S.C.-based ad agency, and the agency’s vice president, Teresa Coles. Coles says the idea grew out of a joke she made one night when she and Monetti were working late.
“I made the off-hand comment to her that evening that perhaps if we would stay up all night one night, and work through the night, that perhaps we would get caught up on our work,” Coles says.
They laughed about the idea, but that night Coles kept thinking about it. “The next morning I went into her office and I said, ‘I’m really serious about staying up all night and working … the catch is I think we should do it for charity.’”
And so CreateAthon was born. RIGGS reviewed all the pro bono requests it had received that year and completed as many projects as it could in 24 hours.
The program went national in 2002 and, since then, as many as 38 agencies have been CreateAthon partners, helping more than 830 nonprofits and delivering 275 marketing projects valued at more than $7 million.
Souper Bowl of Caring, a nationwide, youth-led effort that encourages donations on Super Bowl Sunday to help fight hunger and poverty in local communities, was involved with CreateAthon two years ago. Director of Public Relations Tracy Bender says her organization originally played it safe and asked for a brochure describing the basics of Souper Bowl of Caring.