Designing for Change: Staying Up All Night for CreateAthon

AIGA DC recently hosted their second annual CreateAthon® dedicated to supporting local nonprofits through volunteer creative work. On April 7, 2018, 23 creatives gathered at Beaconfire Red in Arlington, VA to spend 24 hours brainstorming, conceptualizing and designing for local non-profits.

When I was asked to join the planning committee of CreateAthon® 2018, I was eager to participate again — I volunteered last year, and I knew that this event would have an exponential impact for non-profits. Not only are creatives volunteering to provide quality marketing and design to non-profits that need it, but we’re also connecting, networking and building lasting relationships with organizations and people who share our ideals.


The volunteers got right to work splitting into teams to began brainstorming and sketching ideas. Between lunch, dinner, yoga and naps, the teams worked nonstop to complete their project by the deadline. The final few hours were rough, but everyone powered through. The non-profits arrived early Sunday morning to see their new marketing campaigns. After team presentations, the non-profits were impressed, grateful and excited about all of the work their teams completed in such a short amount of time.

CreateAthon® 2018 served six nonprofits with projects across brand identity, marketing materials, social media, and many more. Below is a sample of the work that was done.

Thrive DC’s mission is to end poverty and homelessness in DC. Thrive DC offers a variety of programs and services to residents in need, including meals, showers, a free computer lab, training programs and reentry assistance for those formerly incarcerated. Projects: Brand identity and brochure.

Veterans on the Rise provides homeless veterans with assistance in obtaining housing as well as holistic supportive services for integrating returning veterans into healthy and productive lives. Projects: Marketing materials, fundraising campaign and volunteer recruitment.

STABLE is dedicated to meeting the #1 need for visual artists in DC: studio space. They provide a place where working artists can gather and form a community. STABLE aims to change the arts landscape in DC by supporting a creative economy where visual artists not only remain in the city but also thrive. Project: Fundraising campaign.


Community Advocates for Family & Youth (CAFY) is a victim services organization that offers programs to help individuals, families and communities survive the trauma associated with crime, and receive the help and healing they need and deserve. CAFY offers a range of services, in both English and Spanish, that address the cause and impact of violence and crime. Project: Marketing/social media plan, social media/web graphics and brand style guide.


All About Caring Project, Inc. (AACP) is a youth and young adult outreach program providing mentoring and college-readiness services to graduating high school seniors. The focus of AACP is to provide graduating seniors mentorship as they enter into their freshman year of college through their graduation. Project: Logo rebranding, social media campaign and awareness campaign.


Only Make Believe (OMB) creates and performs interactive theater for chronically ill and disabled children in hospitals, care facilities and special education programs. OMB strives to provide these children with the opportunity to experience the power of theater, and give them tools to bolster their confidence and outlook through their imaginations. Project: Brochure, one-pagers and promotional video.

It’s amazing what can be accomplished in 24 hours. For me as a planner and volunteer, the event was invigorating — seeing people from different creative backgrounds come together for a common cause, and the enthusiasm and the satisfaction of the volunteers and non-profits.  CreateAthon® makes a compelling case for the power of social good and the potential for good design to make a great impact.

A huge thank-you goes to the sponsors that helped make CreateAthon® 2018 possible: A Baked Joint, &Pizza, Design & Flow, JBG Smith, The Hatcher Group, with the kickoff event hosted by Fathom Creative, and the CreateAthon® location sponsor Beaconfire RED.

By Camille Hay
Published May 8, 2018