Most students tend to shy away from all-nighters, but for PhilADthropy, they embrace it. For 25 hours, 150 University of Miami students volunteered to develop professional advertising campaigns for 13 local nonprofit organizations.
Divided into groups of about 10 students, the team includes marketing, advertising and design majors led by an alum or professor. Together, they revamp the organization according to its client’s wants and needs — for free. This coffee-fueled event, created by UM advertising Professor Meryl Blau, is in its seventh year.
The event began 11 a.m. Feb. 5 when the nonprofits met the volunteers and expressed their biggest needs, such as a new image or a proposal to gain more donations. The students are then matched to their respective teams by skill set and begin researching, creating flier and logo designs, opening social media accounts, designing website layouts and making sure that the campaign resonates with what the nonprofit wanted the most. After many hours of work, a beautifully crafted campaign is presented to their clients the next morning.
Thirteen nonprofits were chosen out of about 150 applications, including Miami Waterkeeper, Exchange for Change, ITWomen and Orchestra Miami. Of the nonprofits that participated was the 2Lives Foundation, created in memory of Steven Joel Sotloff, a local journalist who in 2013 was captured by ISIS when crossing the Syrian border from Turkey. A year after his captivity, he was savagely murdered on video by an ISIS member. The nonprofit’s name is based on a letter Sotloff smuggled to his parents while held captive: “Everyone has two lives: the 2nd one begins when you realize you have only one.”
2Lives, created by Sotloff’s family, is focused on keeping his ambition alive by giving scholarships to help journalism students and providing safety training for journalists going into dangerous territories.
Arthur Sotloff, Steven’s father, saw an article in the Miami Herald for UM’s PhilADthropy program, which prompted him to download the application.
“I feel blessed that we had the opportunity to do this. We are very honored that we were one of the few organizations that were chosen,” he said.
Senior Mia Rafowitz is in her second year participating in PhilADthropy. She was assigned to 2Lives and moved by their mission. Their team worked to capture Sotloff’s essence in their ad campaign to help 2Lives gain donations.
“We always like to know what tangible and digital things we will be producing before the night starts, so in the case of 2Lives, they really wanted to get money from donors,” she said.
Besides the full ad campaign, the team also created a donors package for 2Lives so the Sotloffs can achieve their goal of gaining more donations to give to prospective journalists.
“Steven wrote in one of the letters that he wanted to give back to the journalism community and this is how we are going to do it,” mother Shirley Sotloff said.
“We are here to provide as much help as we can now and for future journalists to get what they need to become good and passionate about it and come home safe and sound.”
After watching the students give their presentations, the organizations were moved by the efforts of the hard working, sleep-deprived students.
“Clients always come in and their minds are blown to what they receive,” Blau said. “There are always tears of joy. We recommend bringing tissues.”