OmniStudio was honored to host the Life Skills Center’s Paint + Paper Art Show and Sale this week. The Life Skills Center, Omni’s 2013 ReachOut Partner, offers an amazing and unique service to an underserved community, providing a warm and friendly homelike atmosphere where people with severe disabilities learn job skills, create art, and enjoy supportive daytime activities.
At Wednesday’s art show, dozens of pieces crafted by the Center’s participants were on display and for sale. Converting the Studio into a gallery and event space included the presentation of the artists’ works and photography shot at the Center displayed on monitors throughout the studio.
Omni worked across all levels of event planning to ensure success. From the redesign of the Center’s visual identity to event promotion strategy, to donation collection using digital solutions like PayPal Here and Square apps, Omni’s staff developed a strong partnership with the Center’s leadership.
“Omni’s work has remade us,” said Carlye Christianson, Interim Executive Director at the Center. “Omni truly took us under their wing. In all my experience working with non-profits, I have never encountered an entire organization that has had such a positive response to clients on all matters,” she said.
The event even sparked an idea for a simple e-commerce platform for selling artwork on their new website under development at Omni now. “I wish I could continue to shop, or browse new pieces from these artists as they are completed,” one guest said.
In addition to the sale of art pieces, which raised funds for the Center, the art show rallied community support for the Center’s programs, a core goal of Omni’s partnership with Life Skills. “By every measure the evening was a tremendous success and served as a fitting and robust re-launch of our art program, as well as our first foray into the world of special events fundraising,” said Joan Caivano, President of the Board of the Life Skills Center. “We expanded our community of friends and supporters. The proceeds and expanded community will provide crucial funding for Life Skills’ programs and activities well into the future.”
The art program has served as a core offering for over 20 years, providing participants with opportunities for creative expression in a variety of media. Artistic expression enables participants to share intellectual and emotional concepts, and the artwork that emerges is simply beautiful.
Drawing on the history and significance of the art program, founder and long-time supporter Virginia Schofield remembered an artist’s quote about Life Skills in the Washington Post several years ago. Schofield recalled, “the exhibition allowed others to see what individuals who had no preconceived notions of what art could actually do were capable of presenting. That idea still holds true, and the show at OmniStudio confirmed once again the truth of that insight.”
Omni is thrilled to offer solutions for fundraising challenges like this one. It’s a part of what makes us passionate to communicate the missions of our clients every day.
I was struck this weekend by a beautiful metro car ad featuring the Partners in Preservation campaign to support 24 historical places in the DC metro area. My interest was naturally piqued by the combination of historic sites (I love history, worked for a museum) and social media engagement (I may or may not be completely in love with Twitter). This campaign has it all for me, the user.
According to the sign and responsively designed website (perfect for my mobile viewing as I continued to my metro station destination), I can engage via social media, on the website, and by visiting the sites and submitting photos of them in order to help my favorite site compete for and win preservation grants. Oh, and there’s a sweepstakes in it for me, the user, as well. Brilliant!
Here’s what I love about this campaign:
1. Marketing – Historic sites are supported when visitors engage with them and about them on social media. While the user is motivated by this competition, you are also doing excellent work helping to spread the word about these great historic sites. Your act of digital advocacy just told all your followers about a great space in the DC metro area, and now a few more people know about it and will visit, compared with before the campaign launched. Historic sites have chronically small budgets and few staff, so they really appreciate the free marketing you provide for them. Plus it’s User Generated Content coming from you, the visitor, so people are more likely to trust it.
2. Fundraising – And if the free advertising wasn’t good enough for these sites, how fantastic is it that there are some preservation grants waiting for the winners? This funding opportunity incentivizes the sites and staff to get engaged on social media, while incentivizing those of us highly competitive people to vote for and engage with their favorite sites. You as a user are doing a philanthropic deed and it’s not even costing you anything. Great, right?
3. Online Engagement – In addition to the above two points, I am simply thrilled to see this kind of online campaign. When funding partners and good causes can come together, connecting various places to support, online and outreach tools, and incentives, something beautiful can come of it. I look at this campaign as a model for other organizations to investigate. One voice may not be enough, but many voices with powerful allies can help your organization make an impact. This campaign is yet another indicator that advocacy, education, and fundraising will continue to shift to online platforms, so if you are not already on social media and considering digital outreach strategies, now is definitely the time.
Are you looking to organize a campaign like this but are not sure where to start? Are you still trying to build a following on social channels? Wherever you are in your digitization process, let us know. We can help.
March is Women’s History Month, and I often like to use this time to take the temperature of women’s progress toward equality in society. The results are so often a mixed bag. Women earn more bachelor’s and master’s degrees than men, but still make up less than 20% of Congress and C-Suite positions in Fortune 500 companies. We’ve come a long way but we still have progress to make. While I think we will continue to move forward in some of the less gender-segregated fields, a report by a client recently reminded me of some of the areas we still have much ground to make up.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a report on women in STEM programs and fields, presenting a broad collection of data from a long period of time that tracks women’s progress or backtracking in key areas. Sadly, while women in school and beyond are slowly making gains in some fields of science, we’re actually moving backwards in computer science fields—one of the areas of the economy with the most media attention because of future potential job opportunities.
This back tracking is disturbing, and could in some ways be linked to the ongoing problem of sexism in this field, as recently made evident through Adria Richards and her experience with sexism at a tech conference. This may be one of the cultural influences subverting progress, but I think there may be others too.
Because it’s Women’s History Month, I started to think through the women in science I could name. Marie Curie came to mind, and then I was a bit stumped. Until today. Fortunately for all of us, we lack names of past women in science, not because they aren’t there, but because we don’t know about them—yet. Today I came across a Slate article about a project with a GREAT title: “Grandma Got STEM.” Looking to fight the stereotype that women aren’t in science fields and grandma doesn’t understand science, Rachel Levy has embarked on an internet mission to collect the stories of “grandmas” in science. This beautiful project is both oral history and educational, and it captures those stories you may never have heard to show the many women who are and have been in STEM fields. Please consider sharing your story this Women’s History Month.
It’s 2013, and non-profits are on – or getting on – social media platforms to promote their cause or service.
That’s a lot of content, and a lot of time and energy put into creating that content. News summaries and action alerts from your favorite groups help keep you in the loop and offer you the chance to make a contribution, even if small, to help improve the world in which we live. But are you really giving back to those organizations while you sign the petition or email your representative? Here are some ways you can show your love for a cause this Valentine’s Day.
Like – Between Facebook’s new Graph Search tool and ongoing updates to SEO and search algorithms, social Liking continues to help optimize an organization’s digital presence and broaden its reach. As groups turn to measuring analytics and tracking ROI, your Like becomes even more valuable, so go ahead and give a thumbs up – it’s such a sweet gift.
Share – Liking is a one-click step, but if you really enjoyed signing a petition and want others to know about the issue at hand, share the link from an organization’s page to your own Facebook page or other platform. This helps broaden the group’s audience because now you are asking your friends and followers to take action, so your action amplifies the voice of the organization you support.
ReTweet – Everyone is pushing out information on Twitter just to make sure that their stream stays active, but once in a while, it is generous to pause, listen, and retweet articles you find interesting, comments you agree with, or ideas you want to spread. The organization you followed will see that you retweeted and if they’re nice enough, they should send you a shout out as well.
Pin –As the web turns to more visual content, Pinterest has become an exciting playing ground for posting and sharing graphic designs and photography collected on boards and visible to others.
While not all organizations are on Pinterest, those that are put time and energy into their pinning strategy, so please reward them by commenting on or pinning one of their images. The added visual on your board will remind you of your social love.
What are some other simple ways for sharing the love of causes through social media? How will you show your love on February 14th?
(Icons courtesy of Smashing Magazine)
Last month, OmniStudio announced the Life Skills Center as our 2013 ReachOut partner. For over 35 years, the Life Skills Center in northwest Washington has offered participants a daytime sanctuary; a place where they can learn emergency preparedness and computer skills, develop art projects, and much more. The Center’s work with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is critical to the community, and also inspiring.
We wanted to update everyone on the progress of this wonderful project. Our talented Art Director, Kathy Foltin (pictured to the right), developed three logo options for the Life Skills Center team to review. Here’s what she came up with, along with her thoughts.
Kathy notes, “The logo serves as an organization’s first impression. It conveys its personality and characteristics in a small, distilled symbol, and for that reason, is very powerful. I also wanted to convey a feeling of safety; that the participants’ caregivers and family also feel very comfortable knowing that their loved ones are in a safe place for the day.”
“The far left option makes me feel hopeful, and gives a sense of striving. It feels like the Life Skills Center is a place where someone can grow in skills and confidence and thrive,” Kathy said.
“The center option denotes a solid sense of place.”
Finally, “the far right logo indicates the Center provides a sense of comfort for participants; a home away from home and some safety.”
Kathy’s work has offered the Life Skills Center some great options from which to pick. Which would you select? Share with us why you picked it!
We will continue to update you on this project as we make progress, but in the meantime, please save the date of May 8, 2013, and stay tuned for more information about an exciting event.
While most students lounge by the pool, hang out with friends and do other typical summer-vacation activities, a select group of students from Eastern High School in Washington, D.C. got a chance to see what it’s like in the working world.
As part of Companies for Causes’ ongoing partnership with Eastern High School, students spent one day a week with professionals from six different CforC partners—OPX, Gepetto, Catering, Anybill, Terpsys, Raffa and OmniStudio. Students who passed all of their classes were eligible for the program, in which students see what a professional environment is like as they develop skills and knowledge about what it takes to succeed in today’s workplace.
Two soon-to-be sophomores, Mia and Miles, selected OmniStudio as the place where they would spend one day a week for four weeks and learn what it’s like to work in a design studio.
“I chose to come to Omni because I saw that it’s creative and I’m used to creating all types of things,” said Mia, who says she wants to be a writer and restaurant owner, and makes her own jewelry. “I’m glad I chose Omni because you can use your imagination and the things that I’m good at.”
Over the course of the four-week mentorship program, the students learned about how a project goes from conception to completion, mocked up their own cover designs for a real Omni assignment, learned what’s involved in designing and creating websites, and explored the importance of branding.
“I learned that making a website takes a lot of work and that not just anyone can do it,” Mia said.
But the challenge didn’t stop them; the students created their own blogs based on subjects that mean something to them; Mia’s blog aims to help give teens encouragement in challenging times and inspire them to be confident young people, while Miles’ blog focuses on some passions of his own: sports and cars.
And in one of the learning sessions, Eileen Kessler, president of Omni, talked about logo design and showed the students examples of the types of branding our studio provides for nonprofit organizations.
“Just by chance, we are working on a logo branding refresh for the Washington Teachers’ Union. When they heard that we were hosting Eastern students, they suggested that we include them in our design process, “ Eileen said.
Mia and Miles had a chance to see Omni’s work for WTU and give their feedback on the design options we presented. “This was a great way for students to feel even more connected to our work, and for WTU to share in the experience. We love this type of synchronicity,” Eileen added.
When Mia first came to Omni four weeks ago, she said she wanted to own her own restaurant or be a writer—but she may want to add to those ambitions being a designer, because her work brought lots of oohs and ahs within our studio.
“Mia’s cover design was very well thought out and executed, and she did it with no guidance—that’s the sign of a creative mind and I think she has some great potential in the design world,” Eileen said.
Miles, who wants to go to the University of Miami and major in marine biology and minor in design when he graduates, also enjoyed being able to play on his strengths while at Omni.
“I like computers and technology and design,” he said.
After the program ends, Miles says he’ll continue to blog and share his knowledge of sports and cars with his friends and social networks, and will leave Omni with more knowledge of non-profits—one of Omni’s main client bases—and design in general.
For more information about Companies for Causes and its Eastern High School project, visit the Companies for Causes website.
I’m excited about the momentum building for Companies for Causes!
Today, Tom Raffa, Raffa PC, led a meeting that brought together non-profit leaders, CEOs and public officials in the very hip VisArts center in Rockville.
Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Executive, inspired the audience with the story of his childhood. I didn’t know that he was one of 13 kids and grew up in a 3-room house in Louisiana. He said he struggled to get into college and earned his way by cutting grass and other chores. He encouraged businesses to get involved in their communities. The work we do might help a young person reach their dreams, as he himself experienced.
As a founding partner of Companies for Causes, I talked about thinking long and hard about this commitment. It’s a serious responsibility, especially during tough economic times. But, it’s one I could not pass up for many reasons. I’m inspired by the determination of our fellow CEOs, their passion for helping others, and by the learning experience we’ll share as we collaborate to create programs that help solve challenging problems in our region.
Companies for Causes’ first endeavor will be focused on education in Washington DC. The District has one of the highest dropout rates in the country, and there are extreme differences among schools in their students’ reading and math levels. In the next few months we’ll be meeting with educators, students, non-profits and other business leaders to craft a plan that will have a measurable impact in at least one school.
I hope other CEOs who, as one CEO says ”have philanthropy in their DNA” will join in. We are eager to welcome business owners who want to roll up their sleeves, brainstorm, and contribute their time and resources to make long lasting change for the Washington Metro community.
(An aside: I grew up in Rockville, and had not been to the Town Center in about 5 years. Wow…it’s an entirely different experience now, with shops that house residences above—almost a shiny mini version of Capitol Hill where I live now. Finally planners are getting it! Many people love living where they can walk to dinner, shop and enjoy entertainment.)