After the Conference: Safe Haven session at CNM Bridge to Excellence

SHFS Panel at CNM Bridge to Excellence Conference

On May 15, Safe Haven Family Shelter hosted a panel discussion during a session of the CNM Bridge to Excellence conference. We are using this blog entry as a recap of our session for both those who attended our session and anyone else who has an interest in the topic! Below you will find sections that include our session title and summary, panelists (with contact information), links to our presentation materials and other links/resources. We hope to use the comments section to continue our discussion and to answer questions about our session at the CNM Bridge to Excellence Conference.

Session Title:

Design-a-thon: 30 Volunteers. 24 Hours. 1 Mission.
(A Story of Crowdsourcing, Creativity and Innovation)

Session Overview:

A New Website. Two Brochures. Marketing Strategy. Two Videos. Three display ads.
This is a wish list that many nonprofits create but do not have the resources or time to make happen – especially not all at once. Safe Haven Family Shelter became the beneficiary of all of these items in only 24 hours! Yes, really, 24 hours.

Safe Haven Family Shelter became the recipient of the 2nd Annual Design-a-thon sponsored by Geek for Good and Civic Actions led by Ian Rhett, Bruce Stanley and Jessica Murray. What’s a design-a-thon? A great question that we also asked when approached with this concept. Design-a-thon is a crowdsourcing model that brought 30 volunteers together for 24 hours to create a website and marketing materials for our nonprofit organization. Does the sound of it make you nervous? Us too! But when 30 extremely talented professionals came together with our own staff and board for 24 hours, we worked together collaboratively to make quick decisions and accept new ideas. It was an incredible experience and had created amazing results.  It wasn’t all smooth—we hit a few bumps in the road (aka creative direction change at 1 a.m.), but the journey was worth it.

In this session we shared our design-a-thon experience, reveal the materials that resulted from this crowdsourcing experience and explored how other nonprofits could use the crowdsource/design-a-thon model (on a smaller scale) as an innovative way to complete a pressing marketing or creative project. Nonprofits often get caught in the cycle of planning to plan to plan their new marketing materials. And then they have to tackle the question of time and money to achieve these goals. Thise innovative concept of design-a-thon and crowdsourcing can be a means to gain new materials with a quick turnaround and small monetary investment.

Links to our presentation materials:

Powerpoint Presentation

Handout on Replicating the Design-a-thon Model

Handout with Infographic (Crowdsourcing v. Design-a-thon)


Joyce Lavery, Executive Director, Safe Haven Family Shelter

Tammy Rutherford, Board Member and Marketing Committee Chair, Safe Haven Family Shelter

Ian Rhett, CEO, CivicActions

Bruce Stanley, Sr. Faculty and Graphic Design Coordinator, Brand Director, Nossi College of Art

Stacy Nunnally (panel moderator), Independent Social Media Consultant, Stacy Nunnally Consulting

 Other Links:

Link to Safe Haven videos shown in session

Link to Safe Haven Website

Link to the live blogging from night of our Design-a-thon

Link to Safe Haven Facebook page

Link to Safe Haven Twitter

Talk Amongst Ourselves:

Let’s keep the discussion going. Please use the comments section to ask questions, request information or leave a general comment.


  1. Thanks to Stacy for pulling together a great panel and materials to share with the nonprofit community! Ian and Bruce’s creative and logistical leadership and generous donation of their expertise and time were profound gifts to Safe Haven that have accelerated our growth in ways we are still discovering. Thank you both and to the other 28 designers, technicians, and marketing experts for being a part of something innovative and powerful!

  2. What an amazing project! Great presentation by all. My questions are:
    1. The volunteer collaborators: what was the screening and vetting process? Or was anyone who was crazy enough to volunteer for a work lock-in just allowed to play?
    2. Was the buy-in with the staff and board difficult? I’m thinking about the possible discomfort with letting go and allowing a bunch of strangers to interpret your branding and message…

    • Kristin,
      Thanks for your kind words!

      Ian and the team from were responsible for recruiting the talented and dedicated team of volunteers. The success of the project hinged on their commitment. While there was some time for play, we accomplished so much due to a lot of hard work. Given the time frame, it was key to remain focused for the entire 24 hour period.

      Staff and Board buy-in was not immediate for the reasons you point out. We had some initial reservations, but got past those quickly after a few meetings to clarify our needs and objectives. The process was a great chance to embrace new ideas and get some amazing creative products as a result.

  3. Kristin,
    Thanks for your response! In some ways, the volunteers risked more, but we both brought vulerabilities to the process. I suppose if we didn’t like the result, we would not have accepted it – yet we knew it would have impacted relationships and morale – as well as trust. But we all had invested time on the front end to prepare for this event and once we stepped on this ride, we were committed. The professionalism, talent, and commmitment were evident once we met the voluteers. The ride was hard and risky, but it was also fun, unique, and memorable. Our organization was in transition and the process pressed us to tell our story – a bootcamp in Safe Haven branding. It was a bonding experience and I would do this again in a heartbeat!

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