A Message to Oregon Nonprofits

To all of the nonprofit leaders that encouraged your staff, board, volunteers, and program participants to vote yesterday, I would like to congratulate and thank you. As Oregonians, we elected hundreds of officials, from local school board members, city commissioners, state and federal representatives and senators, to our Governor, and all the way up to the President of the United States.

Across the state, we collectively decided ballot initiatives and approved bonds. We did all of this as part of our most important right as a citizen: voting. Some of you reading this may feel bruised by elections and ballot measures that were hard-fought and too often had a divisive tone. It is now time for people to come together. Whatever folks feel about the election results, up and down the ballot, Oregon nonprofits play an ever-increasing and critical role in our communities and must play a central role in bringing people together.

Charitable organizations are critical to the health, safety, beauty and joy of our communities. Nonprofits are where neighbors can gather to improve lives and strengthen communities through service. Nonprofit missions are as varied as the make-up of our communities. They provide services that empower, salve that heals, music that enlivens, art that beautifies, conscience that protects, and so much more. There is a nonprofit ideally suited to the interests and passions of every person. Working through nonprofits, we reconnect with our communities and rediscover what binds us together. I know that we will continue to make real and valuable differences across Oregon: from Astoria to Rome and from Milton-Freewater to Brookings. I also know that the public values and trusts nonprofits too.

With the new administration at the federal level and changes in state leadership in many positions, nonprofits have both a responsibility and opportunity to advocate to these policymakers on behalf of our missions and the important work we do. As the state association, NAO remains deeply committed to the success of the sector and will continue to do everything we can to support nonprofits and their leaders in being effective in achieving their missions. Most importantly, we as nonprofits need to ensure that we live our organizational values and engender the best in society.

I encourage you all – nonprofit staff, volunteers, board members – let’s invite people to join in the noble work we do. Your positive actions can help model the way for our elected leaders to follow. Let’s work together to unite, heal, and move our state and nation forward.

Jim White, Executive Director
Nonprofit Association of Oregon



source with permission

Interview with a Nonprofit Master

Founder of graphic and website design studio Illusio Design, Chuck Spidell has been slaying pixels for over 13 years. And slinging pen and paper for even longer. We were fortunate to talk to him and ask how in the heck he went from traditional agency guy to running a studio that specializes in nonprofits and companies with a cause.

“One of the first non-profit projects I ever worked on was for the Sierra Club’s Ventana Chapter back in 2000. It’s great because they’re still using my design from more than 10 years ago! That project was a lot of fun for me, and I’d have to say that’s what really got me into the whole environmental scene. I’d always been a big hiker and doing work for them fit into my own personal beliefs about wanting to do things for the environment.”

It was during that project that I learned that design can save the world.

Ten years later he had a bigger epiphany. Illusio Design was working with the humanitarian organization CARE to create a website to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake. He remembers, “Working on that project was very intense. We were designing during the Haiti disaster, and I was being sent photographs from CARE in real time. I’m at my computer looking at the these high-quality, professional images of despair: these women, children and their families. When you see pictures like that you can’t help but feel helpless, that there’s nothing you can do.”

It was then that it came to him, “I can help these people. If I design something that’s really strategic and compels people to want to help, then I’m successful. The money is going to get back to and help the people of Haiti. It was during that project that I learned that design can save the world.”

Obviously, it had a huge impact on his life. Chuck remarked, “After that I was hooked. I thought, ‘I want to do more projects like this, I want to do more work for non-profits. There’s thousands, hundreds of thousands of non-profits out there that need help with branding, and it’s just a matter of finding them. Or them finding us.'”

It didn’t take long. With some work on their part, of course. While attending a networking event for sustainable businesses called EcoTuesday, he discovered CivicActions, a company that specializes in creating Drupal websites for clients with a social mission. How he found them is a story that most designers will appreciate. He loved the design of the EcoTuesday site so much that he wanted to find out who created it. It was CivicActions. After checking out their site and finding out that their clients include Amnesty International, Smithsonian Institute, and Democracy Now!, he inquired about a potential collaboration.

A month later he received an email back from the CivicActions team and not long after he was working with them on a site redesign for a Columbia University’s Global Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) program. A full nonprofit funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the MDP program has students setting up irrigation in Rwanda, combating food insecurity in Ethiopia, and improving literacy in Bolivia. Since that first project, CivicActions and Illusio have formed an ongoing relationship, working together on projects for BikeNYCPrivacy International, and Lambent Foundation.

When asked how he finds his clients, aside from going to networking groups, he said he’s found more than one client on Twitter. In fact, he’s found more than one RFP on Twitter. Though he pointed out, no one can answer an RFP in under 140 characters. Aside from that it’s about getting a great site together and making sure clients can find your work using savvy SEO.

Though Chuck treats his for profit and nonprofit clients exactly the same (always providing the best work), he finds that the motivation is different when dealing with nonprofits. He said, “For those clients, there’s a bigger mission. This is real life and these are real people who are oftentimes in dire situations. There’s something very tangible about that. That knowledge absolutely changes the motivation behind the work you’re doing.”

Even running his own studio and raising a family, he still finds the time to volunteer. His company is currently maintaining the website for Depave, whose mission is removing unnecessary pavement in urban areas to create community green spaces. He and his wife also helped brand their local farmers market. He said, “We redesigned their website, created billboards, posters, buttons, and more. It’s really important to give back to your community when you have time or make the time for it. It’s great to get away from your own worries for a while. Have fun and help someone else out. Again that’s the whole tangible thing about working with nonprofits.”

Chuck’s advice to anyone who’d like to follow in his footsteps?

“If you want to work with nonprofits, start locally. Look them up and study their missions and goals, and find something that speaks to you. Go to one of their projects and see what they do. If you feel strongly about what you see, tell them you want to volunteer.” He suggests that if you can’t do afford to do pro-bono work, tell them you’ll give them a discount on the work you’ll do for their organization. And once you’ve gotten work with one nonprofit, others will see your stuff and follow.”

He did want to make sure we also passed along this final point: “When you do work for nonprofits, even if you’re doing it pro-bono, make sure the work is high-quality. Treat them with the same level of integrity that you do for your for-profit clients. They deserve it.”

Thanks again to Chuck (and his family) for his time to spread a little more social good!

source: Vitamin TWebby Connect series

Helping a Farmers Market Take Root

Giving Back

A couple of years ago, I joined the board of directors of our wonderful neighborhood farmers market. The Montavilla Farmers Market began as a grassroots effort driven by a group of passionate community members, and had grown into a small but thriving market. After the thrill of the early years, small nonprofits like ours go through a transition from a figure-it-out-as-we-go approach to a more established organization. Our local community loved and supported us, but to continue to grow we needed the tools to branch out to a broader audience.

Nonprofit Brand Love

When I joined the board, we had a functional but outdated website. Luckily, I had an in with a talented web design company. ILLUSIO graciously donated time to helping the market shape our online (and offline) presence. After reviewing the existing content and talking with board and staff about our vision for a new site, ILLUSIO designed a beautiful new website for the market. Through use of colors, textures, and photographs, it evoked the feeling of the market. They created content areas that enable use of the site to promote special events or announcements, and advertise our weekly lineup of vendors. Our volunteers and board members couldn’t be happier with the ease of use and capabilities of the WordPress platform. The site is much more usable and functional for our thriving customers. And the Word-like editor is straightforward for us to update and maintain content of the site.

"ILLUSIO gave us the tools for a strong brand that facilitated our transition from a grassroots organization to a community presence."

Gretchan Jackson, Marketing Manager

Beyond the Brand

ILLUSIO translated the design palette of the new site into a MailChimp e-newsletter template that enables the market to send out weekly messages to our customer base, as well as special announcements to our volunteers. They also used this design palette to create a range of printed materials including seasonal posters and postcards, a billboard, print ads, and buttons to give away to our customers and volunteers. The consistent look and feel of all these items helps us have a stronger presence in our community.

The Biggest Little Market

ILLUSIO’s design efforts on behalf of the market helped us to grow as an organization. He gave us the tools for a strong brand that facilitated our transition from a grassroots organization to a community presence. These tools give us a platform for reaching out to volunteers, keeping our customers informed about market events, and growing our presence in the regional farmers market community. Such resources make a huge difference to a small nonprofit. ILLUSIO’s willingness to pitch in to our market demonstrates their commitment to helping nonprofits thrive.

ILLUSIO Tops Clutch's List of Top Web Designers for a second year

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2016 – Today Clutch released a report on leading digital agencies, web designers, and mobile application developers in Portland, Oregon. This research is the most recent in a larger series focused on identifying top service providers in cities across the US. Each company was evaluated on their market presence, previous experience, and client satisfaction, as measured by verified reviews conducted by Clutch analysts.

The leading digital agencies are: FINE, Murmur Creative, Dorey Design Group, Stellaractive, and 6D Global Technologies.

The leading web design firms are: Illusio Design, FINE, Forix, Experience Dynamics, Aha Consulting, Stellaractive, Murmur Creative, and Dorey Design Group.

The leading mobile app developers are: Experience Dynamics, Developmentnow, Quick Left, Groove Development, LLC., Copious, Solid Interactive, SingleMind, Forix, Dorey Design Group, and FINE.

“Though the expertise of these companies are in different areas, they all share an ability to deliver superior results to their clients,” said Alexa Rosenstein, Business Analyst at Clutch. “These agencies have experience in a range of industries from hospitality to government and have worked with clients from start-ups to enterprises. Overall, this is a very talented group.”

Company profiles and full-length client interviews are published on Clutch.co. Clutch’s effort to identify leading agencies and developers is ongoing, and they encourage established firms to apply for inclusion in future research. Upcoming press releases will highlight SEO Consultants, App Platforms and Enterprise Solutions.

The full research can be found by following the below links:





A B2B research firm in the heart of Washington, DC, Clutch connects you with the agencies and software solutions that can help you enhance your business and meet your goals. Our methodology maps agencies and software solutions based on consumer reviews, the type of services offered, and quality of work.


Alexa Rosenstein