CreateAthon AZ Volunteer | Creating a Marketing Plan for AZCEND

What in the world is a CreateAthon?

It’s a 24-hour creative marathon where volunteers come together to provide design, marketing, and strategic services for nonprofits. This event is part of AIGA Design for Good, a program supported by IBM.

WHO: We were matched up with an organization by the name of AZCEND.

AZCEND represents two things:

  • Their deep 50-year roots in the Arizona communities we serve.
  • Their goal of transforming and improving the lives of those in need. They want to do more than simply maintain their current situation—they want to provide them with the tools they need to change their lives for the better.

Our team members were: Kathy Miranda, Allie Konkol, Denisse Leon and of course myself!


WHEN & WHERE: This event happened on July 29th and it lasted for 24 hours. It was located at Co-hoots downtown in Phoenix, Arizona.

WHY: AZCEND had just re-branded and they needed help advertising and spreading the word in a positive way.

Their Social Media profiles were over looked and their website was not user friendly. Most people couldn’t find information about upcoming events or why they should donate to an organization like this. Which is really a big problem… duh! Our goal in 24 hours was to give them a social media post calendar, fix some major UX issues on their website and design future content such as posters and postcards for their charity events.

So how did we tackle sooo many problems in 24 hours? We made a list with sticky notes. We listed all of the potential problems and all of the things that were working well. We organized them into several different categories and split up the work. Kathy was absolutely stunning and she created a half year social media calendar while Allie worked on designing postcards and posters. Since Denisse and I had experience with content management and UX we tackled the website. It was really amazing to work together as a team because as the changes were being made in real time we were always able to ask for critique and recommendations from our team members. Granted this is the first time we had ever worked together as a team, we were technically working with complete strangers. However we were extremely lucky because we communicated in a brilliant way which allowed us to conquer more problems during our short time span.

I will talk about my own experience while working on this project (just a small side note that this is from my perspective!) While working on fixing several UX issues such as buttons not working or menus that were difficult to understand we found that the blog doesn’t actually work. So my task was to reset the blog and fix it so that someone who doesn’t have any experience with WordPress can go in and make a new post. Which was fairly difficult because the theme did not allow it.

After messing around with the settings and adding the ability to instantly transfer social media posts to the blog, I was able to recreate a regular flowing blog for AZCEND. After that I worked with Denisse to rearrange the menus and front page in order to make it more user friendly. It was honestly a lot of work but it was fun. I don’t want to go into detail about what we changed and how we did it because it was a lot of back and forth work that wouldn’t be very much fun to read on a blog post although I would like to include our work method.

How we accomplished soooo many tasks in 24 hours:

  1. We talked to the Customer (Dara, Marketing Director at AZCEND) beforehand and we knew what she wanted to accomplish
  2. On the day of the event we took an hour and wrote down all of the things that needed work and what was working well
  3. We divided up the problems while keeping in mind our experience and talents
    1. Kathy already managed social media at her work so she was extremely happy to take on such a difficult task
    2. Allie worked as a designer, therefore it was easy for her to come up with several marketing pieces in such a short time
    3. Denisse really knew how to get around WordPress and therefore she worked on many of the website changes
    4. Last but not least, I worked on the UX and UI part to make sure it was easy for the customers to donate and use the site while also making sure the website was set up in a way for employees to easily post and share content on the AZCEND page
  4. We asked several questions whenever we were confused or had doubts about our solutions
  5. We communicated our solutions and created a How to Manual for AZCEND
  6. We had a Google Document open and we shared all of our information or AHA! moments
  7. We stayed in contact with Dara just in case we had any questions
  8. We took team breaks and ate a lot of snacks… this really helped us stay awake through the night!
  9. We would mark off all of the tasks we accomplished
  10. Every two hours or so we would go over what we did to see if anyone was stuck
  11. At 5 or 6 in the morning we brought everything together and created the final version of the user manual for AZCEND
  12. We had fun together, I can’t imagine accomplishing anything in a negative environment, we were laughing and solving extremely difficult problems. Honestly we were super lucky to have each other and we had a wonderful time!

At the end we were asked to present our solutions and projects to all of the volunteering teams in the challenge. It was really amazing to see how many people gave away their time and precious sleep to help these non-profit companies. I absolutely loved volunteering my talents to help AZCEND and I sure hope they will continue helping the homeless start new successful lives.

I know that a lot of people complain about seeing the homeless out on the streets but they never do anything about it, I’m really proud to say that I helped at least some of these people start new lives by volunteering for this event. My goal is to always go out there and make a positive change, I might not be able to physically go out on the streets and help these individuals but I was able to help in another way. I believe my team feels the same way. I was super thankful to be a part of this event and I would do it again every month if I could (they only do this once a year).

If you would like to be involved next year here is the website:

If you would like to know more about AZCEND here is their page we worked on:

I would like to thank Denisse for letting me use her photos in my blog post! 🙂