CreateAthon: Collaborating For 24 Hours

“We should work around the clock once in a while,” said Cathy Monetti, during a late- summer night in the studio. “Then maybe we could get ahead.”

“Yes, we should,” Teresa Coles agreed, with the look of a brainstorm on her face. “But we should do it for charity.”

That exchange between Monetti and Coles resulted in CreateAthon 1998, the first year Riggs Partners, their marketing, advertising, and communications firm in Columbia, S.C., offered pro bono marketing services to local nonprofits during a 24-hour creative marathon.

From that glimmer in Monetti’s and Coles’ eyes, the concept has lived on, grown exponentially, and now even includes a thriving site at VCU, led by Petyon Rowe.

Under Peyton’s guidance, VCU students participate in a semester-long leadership and service learning course that culminates with the signature creative marathon, an event where students and professionals collaborate for 24 hours and develop a body of creative work to support local nonprofits.

To date, CreateAthon onCampus at VCU has mobilized 469 volunteers to serve 68 Richmond-area nonprofits with work valued at more than $1.3 million. Peyton says, “Our goal with the CreateAthon event is to provide not only the content development and design work to the nonprofits but also any tangible deliverables that support that work at no cost to them.”

VCU holds its CreateAthon onCampus event every spring (this year it will be held on March 13 and 14), and they are getting ready to make the call for applications, which
include six evaluative criteria:

  1. BUDGET: Little to no marketing budget
  2. LOCATION: Affects local to regional communities (primarily Greater Richmond or communities within about a 30-mile radius of RVA)
  3. PROJECT: Their need is a particularly good fit for what students in advertising (strategic and creative), public relations, and design can provide (for example: targeting a younger market, using social networking sites to improve awareness, and more)
  5. LEVEL OF NEED: Little to no opportunity to access advertising, visual communication, or branding
  6. SUSTAINABILITY OF THE PROJECT: The organization will be able to maintain what is provided if the project demands continued attention (i.e., website, social media strategy, etc.)

To learn more about becoming a part of the CreateAThon onCampus event, visit

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