12 Hours to Change the World: Make a Mark NYC


How Make a Mark is pairing non-profit organizations with talented creatives teams to give them the marketing and design resources they deserve.

Make a Mark is an organization that works to provide marketing, design, and technology resources to non-profit organizations who need them through 12-hour “make-a-thons.”

We attended Make a Mark’s New York City make-a-thon to learn how it works, and see up close the good they’re doing for local organizations.


Making for Good

Design, marketing, and technology solve a lot of problems in the world, but not all of them. Some of the world’s biggest problems — hunger, poverty, health — are being solved by nonprofits staffed almost entirely by volunteers. 

These nonprofits are arguably the organizations that need stellar the most, but these services are often out of reach for teams who are limited in their financial resources and manpower.

Recognizing this need, Sarah Obenauer decided to do something about it, so she started Make a Mark, an organization that seeks to connect community organizations and visual communicators so they can engage with one another and change the world.


12 Hour Make-a-thons

Make a Mark’s signature event is a 12-hour design and development marathon, or as they call it, “make-a-thon.” The non-profit organizations are chosen ahead of time and paired with teams of “makers” –– designers, copywriters, developers, other creatives –– to partner with them on creative projects.

These projects range from brand refreshes, websites, print materials, social media assets, pitch decks, and more. All things that non-profits need, but don’t always have the resources for.


“I think, especially in the City where everyone works at an agency or everyone works in digital, you kind of forget that it is a specialized skill set that is out of the price range of a lot of worthy companies,” says Natasha, a make-a-thon participant, and Project Manager by day. 

For organizations who are giving everything they have to help serve other people, a day that’s focused on them, helping make the heart of their vision come to life in a brand has a massive impact.


“We’re a small non-profit with a small budget, so for us, this is a dream come true,” says Gena Jefferson, Founder of JAIA Youth Empowerment. “To have someone capture what you feel in your heart –– that’s huge.”

T-Shirts to Mark the Moment

The day of a make-a-thon is all about the non-profit organizations, but the Make a Mark team wants to make sure this day is meaningful for their makers as well.

Of course, the biggest reward of the day is helping these deserving organizations with their brands, but fine details like coffee, snacks, and a great t-shirt to go home with all help make the experience a memorable one.


“When they check in and get a t-shirt, it’s special,” says Ana, one of the Make a Mark NYC organizers. “It’s a moment –– we shared a moment.”

Make a Mark currently hosts make-a-thons in 14 different cities across the world — from New York to Brussels to Mumbai — with more on the way. If you’d like to learn more about Make a Mark and starting a chapter near you, head here.

Make a Mark NYC was a huge success. Ten incredible organizations received amazing new creative work that will help them continue to carry out their vision, and it’s something we’re honored to be a part of.


Have your own event that you need a special gift for? Click here to start designing a t-shirt to mark the event.


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