Over ten years ago, in the aftermath of REBUS' freBUS (REBUS' pro-bono arm) efforts to provide marketing resources to St. Louis Non-Profits, Sarah Waters and Kendra Gilligan came to me with passion and an idea. They wanted to take what they learned co-Chairing freBUS and create an marketing organization that was sustainable and scalable. They wanted to build on the idea of experienced marketers (mentors) working with young professionals for the benefit of Charitable organizations in the St. Louis region. They wanted to give back to the St. Louis Community.
ready + willing, the name they came up with for the effort, would provide solutions to issues plaguing our region for years. There were Non-Profits who did not qualify for United Way or other funding mechanisms. ready + willing would provide marketing services for them. Those Non-Profits had been unable to share their story, their value or increase membership and "organic" financial development. They were stuck . . . few knew of their existence. At the same time, young marketers, copywriters, art directors, account service or production pros were unable to gain the experience necessary, to help them land that first job in the business. ready + willing could help that issue also.
I was pleased to be able to help Sarah and Kendra put together their first Board of Directors and to recruit some of the more experienced marketers as mentors. I would frequently have conversations with new college grads who wanted to get into advertising or marketing, so they were natural prospective participants. Sarah, Kendra and the Board were able to identify the first Non-Profits to meet their criteria and benefit from the program. It was exciting, time consuming and anxiety provoking, all at the same time . . . always worried we couldn't keep it going.
Sarah deserves the credit for getting ready + willing to where it is now. To this day, r+w provides a valuable service. It's an excellent place for experienced pros to meet younger professionals, who have different areas of expertise. It's an unusual and valuable learning experience for both parties. It's an excellent way for both older and younger marketers to learn from each other, while providing those otherwise unattainable marketing communications for Non-Profits.
FOCUS St. Louis® has announced the 2017 What's Right With the Region Honorees. ready + willing has been honored as having "demonstrated innovation and vision in making the St. Louis region a better place to live, work or visit." FOCUS St. Louis is the region's premier leadership organization. So far, ready + willing has helped over 14 Non-Profits. You can see some of the work here.