Sleep is overrated. No one knows that better than Meryl Blau, faculty advisor to PhilADthropy and professor at University of Miami’s School of Communication. Since 2010, Blau has put together 16 teams of student and professional volunteers and led them on a 25-hour caffeine-fueled advertising rolling coaster. The end result? Sixteen nonprofits walk away with professional advertising materials that have been used in local and national campaigns. 

“In 25 hours you guys were able to make all this?” asked Amir Whitaker, founder of Project Knucklehead, “You guys have been able to do more than we have been able to do in two years!”

Typically, nonprofits do not have the resources to create high-end collateral material. Realizing this need, Blau decided to start PhilADthropy so students can use their skills while giving back to the local community. This year, eight former School of Communication students and PhilADthropy participants volunteered their time to serve as team leaders.    

“Having so many alumni return to help lead our teams after having participated year after year as students really sums up the bonds and commitment that this school possesses, both while they are here as students, and long after they move on in their careers,” says Meryl Blau.

After working through the night brainstorming, creating websites and designing collateral material, the students presented their work to nonprofit representatives. It’s an emotional time for the representatives and the students.

“We know going into the night, everyone needs to be willing to take a leap of faith, to have trust in both each other and the process, and the will to succeed that rises above all else. This willingness to be open to the unknown is what makes PhilADthropy the success that it is,” says Blau.

While handing out homemade banana bread to the students who worked on their campaign, representatives from Karen Equine Intervention praised the website created during PhilADthropy.

“I really think that what you’ve done will draw attention to us and I really think we’ll start seeing more and more people interested because the website is very easy to navigate and it tells more about us than what we could figure out because neither one of us are ad people,” said Nora Janssen, founder of Karen’s Equine Intervention.

For a nonprofit with limited financial resources, the expertise received from PhilADthropy is invaluable. School of Communication students are taught to use industry software and how to think like advertising professionals from their first day of class. This approach to teaching is one of the reasons PhilADthropy is a success year after year.

“I am so genuinely impressed with the caliber of work that was produced across the board this year, I would say it was probably our best year yet,” said Blau.