q&a with stephanie fay: jumpstART (arts street)

08Sep09

THE PROJECT: JumpStart Art Auction

What was the goal?

The goals of this project (for ripcord) were to:

  1. Give back to the community via a pro-bono effort.
  2. Support a program/organization that aligns well with ripcord’s business and interests.

The goals of this project (for the benefiting organization Arts Street) were to:

  1. Increase awareness of Arts Street and its programs within the Denver community
  2. Raise money to support Arts Street’s programs
  3. Get 150-200 business professionals to attend the event

What where the deliverables (size, scope of project)?

This was a comprehensive branding project. We needed to name the event, create a logo and all required branding materials (e-blasts, press releases, invitations, signage, sponsorship kits, etc.) We also needed to market the event and solicit participation from four main audiences:

  • Potential attendees of the event
  • Art Donors (artists willing to donate their artwork for the art auction)
  • In-kind sponsors (people and companies willing to donate items for the event such as food, wine, giveaways, etc.)
  • Corporate sponsors (corporations willing to support the event with a monetary sponsorship)

Who was involved, how were responsibilities divided?

The bulk of the work was done by 6 full-time employees of ripcord. We also had help from Stella, the founder of Arts    Street.

When was the project, duration of the time spent on the project?

All of the above was accomplished over an 8 month period. We began planning in Jan/Feb and the event took place on Sept. 11.

Any other relevant background info you would be willing to provide about the project…

Ultimately, the work we did on behalf of JumpStart provided ripcord with the honor of being awarded the 2008 Workforce Award by the Colorado Business Coalition for the Arts.

2) THE CONCEPTION/INSPIRATION

How was the project initiated or inspired?

Ripcord has always believed in finding ways to give back to the community via pro bono work. After brainstorming with our team, we decided that we wanted to coordinate and host an art auction fundraising event that would benefit a local organization that helps instill creative thinking skills in Colorado’s youth. With art programs disappearing left and right from local schools, we felt passionate about supporting an organization that not only provides kids with an opportunity to nurture their creativity, but also teaches them how those creative skills can help them succeed professionally. After much research, we discovered Arts Street, a nonprofit dedicated to cultivating under-served youth as a creative and culturally competent workforce. After meeting Stella and the board members of Arts Street we knew they were the perfect fit for our organization and its philanthropic mission.

How did this project differentiate itself from other projects?

While there are other art auction fundraisers in Denver, we feel our event is unique in the fact that it was entirely focused on celebrating the role of creativity in business. Creative thinking and artistry are often not associated with business, and we wanted to help businesses of all kinds begin to think about how their organization could benefit from utilizing creative thinking. This was a key differentiator for our event. And the result was different type of event: one that was casual, fun, and engaging.

What was most challenging and rewarding about this project?

The fact that six people (with full time jobs) were able to donate 1500 hours and raise over $15,000 for this organization was incredible. We all felt a huge sense of accomplishment and tremendous pride in what we had created.

3) THE PROCESS

How was the process determined and developed?

Because we had never branded and marketed an event before, we had a large learning curve and had to make much of our process up along the way. However, the fundamentals of branding definitely applied and we were able to leverage many of the same processes we use for our clients’ work. For us, those fundamentals are:

  • Learn everything you can about the product/service (or event, as in this case);
  • Determine who the target audience(s) is/are and why what you are offering is meaningful to them;
  • Develop an identity and supporting materials that are relevant to the target audience(s) and serves their needs;
  • Determine the best ways to reach the target audience(s) – ie. Web, mail, radio, TV, face-to-face, etc. and develop a plan based on those activities.

What were the different stages of production?

The first thing we had to do was to create a name and logo for the event.

The second thing we needed to do was to develop supporting materials required to speak to all the different audiences.

The third thing was to develop protocols for reaching out to all the people we needed sponsorships or donations from.

Then we developed a marketing plan for marketing the event to business professionals in Denver. We had to develop all required materials for this (invitations, e-blasts, press releases, etc.)

Lastly, we needed to develop all materials required for the event itself (signage, stickers, etc.)

How does the Ripcord design process/philosophy adapt for each project (specifically this pro bono project)?

Whether our client is pro bono or not, the fundamentals of what we do really remain consistent:

  • Figure out what you are selling/providing
  • Determine who would most need/want what you are offering and why
  • Determine the best avenues for reaching those people and develop the necessary materials to accomplish that.

How were deadlines managed and determined?

We had weekly status meetings where we set benchmarks for doing what needed to be done. We also assigned “committees” for major aspects of the project (sponsorships, artwork, night-of activities, food and drink, etc.)

The bulk of this case study revolves around learning about the process. Any additional information or documentation that you can share would be greatly appreciated.

Overall, I would say that the process for branding and marketing doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Figure out what is beneficial about what you have to offer, determine who would benefit most from receiving what you offer, and then determine the most effective ways to communicate with those audience(s). There is no exact recipe, but it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

THE RESULTS/EFFECTIVENESS

How did you determine the success of the project?

The success of our program was evident in the fact that we raised about $15,000 to support Arts Street’s programs and that we had nearly 200 people attend the event. Many of those people had not previously known about Arts Street or its programs, so we were able to introduce Arts Street to many new prospective donors.

How do you feel about the results?

Doing this type of work may seem like a sacrifice, but we’ve accomplished much more than promoting and extending the missions of these exceptional non-profit organizations. We have also bonded with some of the most giving, talented, and generous people in Colorado, and we’ve felt our spirit renewed time after time by the tremendous hope and inspiration inherent in these organizations.

Each year I see the work we donate impact our internal team in many positive ways. Because we’d never coordinated an event of this size before, this particular experience included challenges and obstacles we didn’t anticipate. In working through those challenges our employees have rallied together in a way that made us all proud to be members of the same team. It has created a momentum for our company that cannot be manufactured and has lasted long after the guests were gone and the wine was cleaned out of the carpet!

Additionally, the bonds we have all developed with Stella Yu, the Arts Street Board members and the kids of Arts Street are unmatched. The level of commitment we see in Stella has inspired us all as artists, professionals, and people. We are proud to be considered part of the Arts Street family.

By coordinating and hosting the event itself, we had the pleasure of meeting many amazing individuals and outstanding Colorado companies. We were also able to introduce Arts Street to hundreds of Colorado professionals, creating the kind of exposure that is essential for their long-term success. We are hopeful that these introductions develop into lasting professionalrelationships that are beneficial to all parties.

One of the most obvious ways our efforts this year made a difference to our community is via the programs that were enabled thanks to the money raised by JumpstART:

1. Animated Resume is an eight-week program that gives students the opportunity to tell their own short stories using a range of media including animation, journalism, photography, and cinematography. Their individual projects will include video presentations of their life skills and showcase personal attributes that are difficult to capture in a written resume, particularly for young people with limited formal experience and training.

2. Entrepreneurial Development will be an ongoing after school activity that teaches youth to develop, produce, and market small gift items for corporate clients.

3. Arts Street Scholarships will help talented and inspired youth continue their training and education toward a creative career.

Perhaps our proudest moment resulting from JumpstART was when a couple of the kids from Arts Street came to ripcord to present our team with handmade award specifically for us. The award is inscribed with “ripcord, LLC, PHILANTHROPIC BRILLIANCE” We’ve never felt so honored.

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5 Responses to “q&a with stephanie fay: jumpstART (arts street)”

  1. 1 randompatterned

    I like how she sums up the process of brand creation in plain language which can be understood by designers and non-designers alike.
    I also admire how much ripcord put their heart and soul and tons of hours into making the event successful. It’s great they received recognition from both the Colorado Business Coalition for the Arts and young people in the Arts Street program.
    They seem like a genuinely compassionate group who thrive on contributing for the sake of its own inherent benefits, not because of the potential of gaining paid client work and accolades – but they do deserve the kudos for sure.

  2. 2 Jennifer Constantine

    I thought that was cool how there was only one digit more than how many hours they worked,”The fact that six people (with full time jobs) were able to donate 1500 hours and raise over $15,000 for this organization was incredible.” It was nice that they were able to win an award for their efforts towards this project since they spent 8 months on this project, they definitly deserve something for that hard work for the auction.

  3. 3 kennawitt

    I really love the fact that these guys are so honest about their work, they mention how they had never branded a full event before but they took on this job on pro bono nonetheless and learned a lot. Thats the great part, that they are learning new things with each new project they do. Also the amount of work and money they raised from it is fantastic, they are really proud of their work and you can sincerely tell just from reading this. Their animated resume project seems really interesting, they seem to have gotten some really great programs up and running.

  4. 4 Jess Wellington

    Your interview is probably the most extensive, in-depth interview that I have read. You received detailed responses from jumpstART that really helped form your case study and get a well-rounded understanding of what they are like as a design firm as well as what they are like as individuals. Their responses really have a lot of truth in them and depth that I haven’t seen a much in other people’s interviews.

  5. 5 nsolodukhin

    The point on which this project differentiates itself from other art driven projects is unique, in that having that the incorporation of art in a business atmosphere will provide more opportunities for creativity which will, in turn, provide room for the most effective and innovative ideas. Also the fact that they are immersing themselves in the community and forming connections with artist is wonderful, since it will surely act as a springboard for future collaboration.


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