Northern Illinois Hospice – Rockvinia

Northern Illinois Hospice (NIH) planned a fundraising event in 2016 incorporating an all-day golf outing coinciding with a nighttime dinner and concert. NIH’s marketing director, Jolene, contacted me about leading the event’s brand identity for online, merch, and printed marketing initiatives. Nonprofit marketing arrangements tend to scare me away at this point in my career—everyone wants a deal, something for free, or has too many cooks in the kitchen. Due to budget limitations and the fact it was an inaugural event, Jolene made the process smooth on my end with regards to meeting contract terms and conditions along with me cutting my rates down as long as limited licensing rights and contract terms remained intact should the event become an annual occurrence, of which it has.

NIH—like many nonprofits in the Rockford region—provide a great service to people in need but its employees are grossly underpaid and poorly represented by inept board leadership. In 2018, the board decided to alter the event branding without honoring terms and conditions. Jolene fought to protect my contract terms and the branding remained intact. Breaching my contract—altering and removing elements of my logo, signature, etc.—requires NIH to start from scratch, redevelop a new event brand identity, or pay me outright for exclusive licensing to use artwork as they wish. My terms, agreed by the board in 2016, didn’t go over well in 2018 and cost Jolene her job for defending contracted terms to maintain and proceed with a successful brand strategy that, to date, 4 annual Rockvinia events have raised over $250k in donations. Kudos to Jolene, and shame on the NIH board.

In hindsight, I would have passed on this brand strategy request had I known the types of board egos involved and to the extent they would go to cause an unnecessary breach of terms. The event has done well since its inception, branding intact, and is now in its 4th year (2019).

ClientNorthern Illinois HospiceServicesEvent Brand DevelopmentYear2016-Present

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