Make a Mark program offers new marketing campaigns for local nonprofits

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BLACKSBURG (WSLS)-- More than a dozen local nonprofits will be in Blacksburg on Saturday, as the organizations get a total marketing makeover.

This is the second year of Make a Mark, a one day event where local designers and developers volunteer their time to update the digital presence of the nonprofits. They'll have just 12 hours to create new marketing plans, websites and brand new logos. The updates will help the nonprofits look more professional and make it easier to get their messages out to the public.

Make a Mark also gives the designers and developers the opportunity to put their skills to the test, creating unique and meaningful work on an extremely tight deadline.

One of the organizers, Sara Obenauer, says the idea came to her after she worked at a nonprofit in Roanoke that wanted to expand its brand and marketing campaign, but just wasn't able to.

"They had a desire to have that visual presence, but there weren't any resources to do that," says Obenauer. "By resources, that's time, ability to hire somebody or provide a staff member the time and money to learn a new skill. So from my experience with that nonprofit and learning design and marketing, I realized there was a good way to merge those two."

There are some changes in place this year as well. As the developers and designers work, there will be a special seminar for the nonprofits. They'll learn how to put their new marketing material in action once the weekend is over.

"We wanted to give the nonprofits an opportunity to get a little more education through the day," says Obenauer. "Take what they're learning and use it throughout the year and learn some new things we don't even do with Make a Mark. We have industry experts coming in to do training with fundraising and social media."

The nonprofits will also be able to give feedback on the projects and interact with the teams that are developing their new products throughout the day.

Virginia Tech students and professional designers are volunteering their time for Saturday's event.