Lesson 01

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By giving yourself time, you're creating the opportunity to be creative. You have a chance to listen to the needs of your community to create something unique and impactful.

While the purpose of Make a Mark is the same, each event is unique for its community, which is the magic of this event and having local organizers in each city.

We never simply press "play" on any event. Each year we return to the drawing board with our lessons learned from the previous year to make each event better, more meaningful, and frankly, more fun. To do this, we set aside the time that we need (for us this is usually six months) to properly plan a new make-a-thon.


Each year, our first meeting is a chance to talk about our goals for the event. We push each other to think of ideas without budget or time constraints. We encourage everyone to be completely open and will quickly stop negative language and the shutting down of ideas in the brainstorming stage. After the vision is set, we are equipped to use future meetings to determine priorities, project goals, directly responsible individuals, and more.

As a result of our brainstorming, we can add events year after year to enrich the experience for all participants. In 2016, we added educational sessions for nonprofits during the event. In 2017, we added an after-party to keep the celebration alive. Later that same year, we brought to life the idea of a kickoff party at a local brewery to honor our selected nonprofits and makers (creative volunteers). We've seen organizers continue to connect with one another throughout the year and add their own flare to their events.


In new cities and towns, we are given a unique opportunity — a chance to listen. In 2017, we held our first Make a Mark Huddle. This was a free, hour-long information session held in a community space. All local nonprofit leaders and makers were invited to give their input, ask questions, and learn more about Make a Mark. Not only did we recruit interested participants and find viable partners from this, but we also learned about potential concerns and problem areas, as well as the right language to use in that particular community.

We learned that just a year prior, a similarly framed event had taken place in the community, and while nonprofits were promised pro-bono materials and education, they walked away with confusion. We also learned that while we did wish to support nonprofit organizations, we didn't feel the need to exclude other organizations or new efforts that weren't designated nonprofits. We added the language "humanitarian causes" to expand those we were able to serve.

We've seen organizers in many communities hold similar informal information sessions to listen to the needs of their communities. These have covered a wide range of styles from casual "questions and answers" at a brewery to a formal presentation at an art gallery. Being open has allowed us to create unique experiences for each community.


Continue to the next lesson to learn more about building your own make-a-thon

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