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Our Top Three Takeaways from 18NTC

French Quarter New Orleans Building

Last week, Lexie (our Director of Strategy) and I travelled down to New Orleans for this year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference hosted by NTEN. It was our first time in the Big Easy, and my very first time at NTC so we had a lot to be excited about! Spoiler alert: it definitely lived up to expectations.

Now that we’ve had some time to digest all the great stuff we learned—and the dozens of oysters and beignets we consumed, for that matter—we wanted to share our top three takeaways from NTC:

1. Blockchain is Going to Change the World

Turns out, blockchain isn’t only about Bitcoin and CryptoKitties. And believe it or not, it’s pretty relevant for nonprofits. Trust us, we were skeptical too! Blockchain—the technology that sustains Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies—is actually an incredibly powerful tool for recording and storing information, and its implications extend far beyond the world of finance.

On day one of NTC, we were lucky enough to attend the “Blockchain for Nonprofits: Fact vs. Fiction” session hosted by Sheila Warren of the World Economic Forum and Marnie Webb of TechSoup. These brilliant speakers made quick work of Lexie and I, turning us from Blockchain skeptics (read: ignorant fools) to wide-eyed believers in just 90 minutes. According to TechSoup, “Blockchain is essentially a shared digital ledger system: a decentralized database that allows information to be exchanged among several parties but not altered.” The transparency and accountability that blockchain promotes has huge implications for the nonprofit world—from voting and land rights to international aid. More on that here.

We won’t embarrass ourselves trying to explain blockchain technology any further, but suffice to say it’s incredibly exciting and deserves to be on every nonprofit’s radar (thanks, NTC, for putting it on ours!). It actually reminds us of one of our core beliefs here at Constructive: that technology can have enormously positive effects in the nonprofit sector, even if it feels unfamiliar at first.

2. Authentic Brands Can Handle Anything…Even the Apocalypse

Still riding out our high from the morning’s blockchain session, we decided to turn our attention to a more familiar topic in the afternoon: branding. At the “Branding for Apocalypse” session hosted by brand consultant James Wu, authenticity was top of mind for both panelists as they discussed the ways in which their organizations have remained true to their values in the age of fake news, Rocket Man, and Stormy Daniels.

Kristyna Jones of Brothers Empowered to Teach (BE2T) described the ways they use their brand to reflect not only their own organizational values, but also to connect with their audience of college-aged young men. Staying true to their beliefs and to the interests of their audiences allows them to rise above a less-than-ideal political climate. Specifically, Kristyna mentioned a new podcast BE2T launched to make sure their voice was being heard on issues ranging from charter schools to yep, you guessed it—Cardi B’s new album. Now that’s what we call staying relevant!

Rhiannon Tasker from The Public Theater talked about how staying true to their brand’s core values was key to increasing annual donations in 2016—a year where doing that was anything but certain. Instead of frantically reframing their brand to respond to the current climate, they turned to their history as a New York cultural institution to engage with former supporters and gain new ones. Incorporating images of audience reactions into email campaigns and hand-writing thank you notes to every donor were strategies they used to make their values real, and stay relevant with their audiences.

In this new era, people crave authenticity from the organizations they trust. It was inspiring to see the impact that a strong brand has, even in semi-”apocalyptic” times. For us, it really cemented the importance of the brand strategy work that we do here at Constructive.

3. Nonprofits and Tech Startups Aren’t That Different

Finally, after a long week of exciting ideas, we were ready for some practicality by Friday. Luckily, we stumbled upon the perfect session for that: “The Best Tech Startup Practices to Help Your Mission,” hosted by Dahna Goldstein and Andrew Lovett-Barron from New America. As two brand strategists who spend a lot of time crafting mission statements, Lexie and I were really intrigued by their idea of framing nonprofit missions in terms of startup value propositions.

I’ve spent a good amount of time working alongside entrepreneurs, and I can tell you from experience that for new startups, differentiation is key for investment and recognition. Helping nonprofits articulate their mission and values in a similar way, one that increases impact and donations, is one of the reasons I love working at Constructive.

Here’s a useful “mad-lib” type exercise that Dahna and Andrew shared with us for determining your organization’s unique value proposition:

  • “For [target beneficiaries] who [statement of need or opportunity], [organization name] is a [category] that [statement of benefit]. Unlike [competitor/competitor category], our product/service [statement of primary differentiation].”

Summing it Up

I know what you’re thinking, “we work at a branding and design studio and at NTC we learned about blockchain, the apocalypse, and startups?” Fair enough, our takeaways aren’t exactly cohesive. But in our opinion, each one really made clear the value of the work we do.

That’s a win in our book. See you next year, NTC!

Constructive Named Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award Finalist!

On April 9th, Fast Company released the finalists of the World Changing Ideas Awards, an impressive list of companies, initiatives, concepts, and projects that are poised to help shift society to a more sustainable and more equitable future.

Constructive is excited to announce that we’ve been listed as a finalist of the Photo and Visualization category for our work with the Climate Impact Lab! The Climate Impact Lab is a collaboration of climate scientists, economists, and data engineers. For the release of its first major research project, The Lab asked Constructive to help develop its brand, website, and an interactive tool to make the case for how climate change will increase poverty and inequality worldwide.

Fast Company’s second-annual World Changing Ideas Awards drew nearly 1,400 submissions in 12 categories. These 240 entries made it to the final round of judging. You can learn more about the judges, and see the full list of finalists here.

The Rhodium Group Launches New Site

Constructive is proud to announce the launch of the Rhodium Group’s newly redesigned website! Just under a year in the making, Rhodium’s new site was designed to increase engagement with their audiences by highlighting their unique approach to various issue areas. It also features a robust research portal for users to easily navigate and explore a range of complex information.

Rhodium Group (RHG) combines policy experience, quantitative economic tools and on-the-ground research to analyze disruptive global trends. Our work supports the investment management, strategic planning and policy analysis needs of clients in the financial, corporate, non-profit and government sectors. RHG has offices in New York, California and Hong Kong, and associates in Washington and New Delhi.

  • Policy Experience: RHG principals are involved in the policy process in the US and abroad, with career-long work at leading think tanks and senior government experience.  We understand the impact of policymaking on economic patterns, and the challenge of finding policy signal in a sea of policy noise.
  • Quantitative Economic Tools: To translate policy insight into market outcomes, RHG employs a suite of proprietary analytical tools – from macroeconomic models of China’s economy to detailed engineering-based models of the US energy market.  These tools allow us to extract market-relevant insight from the avalanche of global economic data now available, and help us anticipate policy outcomes driven by economic developments.
  • On-the-Ground Research: Policy insight and quantitative analysis will get you 2/3s the way to smart on today’s global economy – in other words, a grade of “D”. Therefore RHG dedicates equal time to on-the-ground research, meeting with business leaders, regulators, consumers, journalists, diplomats and myriad other players at work determining market outcomes.  Often the best insights start at the factory level, not the macroeconomics.   Our extensive on-the ground interviews ensure our macroeconomic observations are consistent with microeconomic reality, and present an opportunity for clients to join us in the primary research process to see for themselves what drives the disruptive global trends we cover.

Constitutional Accountability Center Launches New Website

Constructive is proud to announce the launch of the Constitutional Accountability Center’s newly redesigned website! The site gives CAC’s new brand identity a digital home, and elevates their online presence to match the quality and impact of their work. The Constitutional Progress page features a visual timeline of the people, places, and events that have shaped the Constitution’s arc of progress.

CAC Website Macbook

The Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) is a think tank, law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of our Constitution’s text and history. They work in our courts, through our government, and with legal scholars to preserve the rights and freedoms of all Americans and to protect our judiciary from politics and special interests. CAC’s work addresses the following issue areas:

We’re Looking for a Senior Interactive Designer!

Sr. Interactive Designer (Social Impact Design Agency)

Constructive, a leading social impact design firm is searching for an experienced Senior Interactive Designer to join our team of strategic and creative thinkers to design dynamic digital experiences that help make the world a better place.

Senior Designers at Constructive work both independently and in close collaboration with experts across our teams on design strategy, UX, visual design. If you’re an exceptional designer and a strategic, creative thinker with a leadership mindset—with an exceptional portfolio of large-scale, content-heavy digital projects—then we’d love to hear from you.

And if you want to spend your days applying your talent and passion to make a meaningful difference on issues like climate change, education, and social justice—then we think you’ll love working at Constructive.

If this sounds exciting you, then please read more about the kind of person we’re looking to add to our team and what we have to offer.

 

Would people agree that you

  • Are a versatile, detail-oriented designer who is always learning and pushing your thinking?
  • Take a systems-based approach to design—always focusing on client and audience needs?
  • Have extremely strong design fundamentals (usability/interaction, typography, color theory, grid systems, etc) and produce work that is both beautiful and usable?
  • Balance creative innovation with practical necessity—when to push for great and when to just get it done?
  • Know how to think across screen sizes and types to design effective experiences for multiple digital environments?
  • Excel at turning complex content into accessible design that increases understanding and generates action?
  • Understand how design comps and prototypes get built by developers into interactive experiences?
  • Stay current with digital technology and design trends; keeping your eye on what’s new while avoiding what’s just trendy?
  • Have rock-solid Sketch and Creative Suite skills, and keep your files organized so that they’re easy for teammates to use?
  • Are a persuasive presenter who can articulate your thinking and design decisions in ways that resonate with non-designers?
  • Have experience leading workshops and strategy sessions that bring out the best in others.
  • Are passionate about making the world a better place, and your portfolio shows meaningful, high-polish work that helps clients pursue greater social impact.

 

Then here’s a partial list of the things you’ll do with Constructive

  • Conduct client and design research to inform your thinking; present findings to teammates and clients
  • Contribute to and lead digital/design strategy that guides design execution
  • Create digital strategy briefs and other design process documents.
  • Participate in and lead design/strategy workshops to create consensus on design ideas.
  • Participate in and lead design presentations with clients; Help steer them in the right direction.
  • Collaborate with Brand Strategists to ensure design is aligned with our clients’ organizational goals.
  • Collaboratively design websites and other brand experiences; Oversee production design of your concepts—supporting less senior designers.
  • Partner with developers to ensure interactive execution is aligned with design vision.
  • Create guidelines and standards for your designs—establishing design patterns and systems that are easy for others to implement and scale.
  • Bring energy, ideas, and enthusiasm to your work and our team!

 

Here are our minimum requirements for Senior Designers

  • 4+ years experience working in a design firm as an interactive design
  • A Bachelor of Arts degree (or higher) in related field
  • The ability to work in our NYC office
  • A positive attitude and a sense of humor

 

Benefits & Perks

Constructive prizes work-life balance, and our compensation is a combination of competitive salary and a a robust list of benefits and perks:

  • Health Insurance, Dental & Vision
  • 401K plan with company match
  • Annual profit sharing bonus and potential for performance-based bonuses
  • 2 weeks paid vacation (+1 additional day per year)
  • Paid vacation between Christmas & New Year’s
  • 10 work from home days /year
  • 1/2-day Summer Fridays (Approx 16)
  • 1 week paid personal/sick days
  • Monthly employee-voted gift card awards
  • TransitChek (pay for transit w/ pre-tax $)
  • Discounted Company Cell Phone Plan
  • Free Boxing/Exercise classes across the street (WorkTrainFight.com)
  • $1K annual professional development stipend
  • New client bonus (2.5% of largest contract in year 1 for any non-inbound client)
  • Coffee, snacks, soda
  • Company lunch every Wednesday
  • Company Weekly Happy Hr (every non-summer Friday)
  • Bi-monthly Company Events (sporting events, bowling, holiday party, etc)
  • The feeling of satisfaction knowing that your work is helping make the world a better place

 

Interested? Great! Then please send an email to titled “Senior Designer” to jobs@constructive.co with the following 

  • A Resume
  • A cover letter telling us a bit about you and what excites you about joining our team
  • A link to your online portfolio (applications without one will not be considered)
  • Desired salary (freelance rate for those interested in consulting with us)

We’re Looking for an Office Operations Manager!

Constructive, a leading social impact brand strategy and design firm in NYC is looking to add an Office/Operations Manager to our team. We are an established boutique agency of 13 people that is looking to take the next step in our evolution—strengthening our systems, processes, procedures, and culture. The ideal person for this role is a mid-level professional who’s passionate about operations and is looking to take the next step in their career.

If you’re an experienced and energetic Office/Operations Manager who’s default setting is “GO!”, who prefers a small business environment and is hungry for significant responsibility and authority, then we’d love to hear from you. And if you’re a values-driven person who wants to work with a close-knit team to make meaningful contributions to issues like climate change, social justice, and inequality, then we think you’ll love coming to work at Constructive.

Would the people you’ve worked with agree that you…

  • Take ownership of things and run with them?
  • Don’t let things fall through the cracks?
  • Are incredibly organized and likes to keep things tidy (both literally and virtually)?
  • Are a problem solver who naturally looks to improve things?
  • Look to automate things and establish systems with clear guidelines?
  • Understand the ins and outs of all sorts of HR-related issues and processes?
  • Excel at research and presenting clear options with recommendations?
  • Are thoughtful, responsive, and have great people skills?
  • Love organizing company events and outings?
  • Enjoy finding ways to save money and negotiating with people?
  • Do all the little things that make an office run smoothly?

If so, here are some of things you can expect to be doing if you join our team:

  • Be a key part of building company culture and supporting employee well-being
  • Help develop and document company standards and procedures
  • Evaluate and oversee relationships with all office-related vendors/service providers
  • Make sure that the bills get paid and that we get paid
  • Create & manage spreadsheets of company resources, assets, etc.
  • Lead employee onboarding and offboarding
  • Be the go-to person for our HR needs
  • Research, organize, and manage regular company outings
  • Organize company events and book staff travel
  • Keep the office organized and supplies stocked
  • Work with project managers on reporting & billing
  • Keep our office and our people humming!

Here are some specific things we’ll need you to bring to the table:

  • 3+ years experience as an office manager or in operations
  • A proactive personality, independence, and great collaboration skills
  • Fluency with Google Docs, Spreadsheets, and other standard office tools
  • Experience generating detailed reports, summaries, etc.
  • Exceptional ability to multi-task and stay organized
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Lots of ideas, enthusiasm, and a sense of humor!

Benefits & Perks:

  • Health Insurance, Dental & Vision
  • 401K plan with company match
  • Annual profit sharing
  • 2 weeks paid vacation (+1 additional day per year)
  • Paid vacation between Christmas & New Year’s
  • 6 work at home days /year
  • 1/2-day Summer Fridays (Approx 16)
  • 1 week paid personal/sick days
  • Monthly employee-voted gift card awards
  • TransitChek (pay for transit w/ pre-tax $)
  • Discounted Company Cell Phone Plan
  • Free Boxing/Exercise classes across the street (WorkTrainFight.com)
  • $1K annual professional development stipend
  • New client bonus (2.5% of largest contract in year 1 for any non-inbound client)
  • Coffee, snacks, soda
  • Company lunch every Wednesday
  • Company Weekly Happy Hr (every non-summer Friday)
  • Bi-monthly Company Events (sporting events, bowling, holiday party, etc)
  • The feeling of satisfaction knowing that your work is helping make the world a better place

Professional Level

None specified

Minimum Education Required

4-year degree

If this sounds like an exciting opportunity, please send to jobs@constructive.co:

  • A letter explaining why working with Constructive excites you and why you think you’d make a great fit,
  • Your preferred salary range
  • Examples of any documents you’ve created related to operations/office management

Constructive Named Top Web Design Company by GoodFirms

On January 4th, GoodFirms—a Washington, D.C. based B2B research firm—released their annual list of top performing web design companies. The rankings are determined based on quality, reliability, ability, and client feedback. This year, we’re proud to announce that Constructive ranked ninth on the list of thirty firms! We’re motivated by this success and excited for what 2018 has in store!

To learn more, check out the full press report here.

About GoodFirms

GoodFirms is a Washington, D.C. based research firm that aligns its efforts in identifying the most prominent and efficient web design companies that deliver results to their clients. GoodFirms research is a confluence of new age consumer reference processes and conventional industry-wide review & rankings that help service seekers leap further and multiply their industry-wide value and credibility.

Matt Schwartz Featured on Happy Porch Radio Podcast

Yesterday, our founder Matt Schwartz appeared on Season 3, Episode #2 of the Happy Porch Radio Podcast! He chatted with host Barry O’Kane about a variety of topics including why he founded Constructive, how we carry our values over into client relationships, and the future of design agencies.

As a student of creative writing and visual studies, Matt was motivated to combine his interests and launch his own design and branding firm after years of restricting work at larger agencies. Central to the founding of Constructive was Matt’s passion for social justice. The design and branding work Constructive takes on for its nonprofit clients has given Matt what he calls a “paid PhD for how the world works.” Despite not working directly “where the rubber hits the road,” Matt believes in the ability of social change agencies like Constructive to create impact at scale for its clients.

Check out the full episode here.


Happy Porch Radio is the podcast for progressive agency owners and web professionals. Season 3 focuses on the growing number of agencies whose goals are driven by their values to make the world a better place.

Constructive Partners with the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science on Capital Campaign

Our team is very proud to have partnered with the prestigious American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science to launch their 75th anniversary capital campaign.  Working alongside their team, we developed the campaign name, brand, print communications and website to share their goals for the next 75 years and make the case for continued support. Check out the Transforming Tomorrow campaign site here to learn more.

 

Computer screen shows the first page of the capital campaign website

The American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science is a community of dedicated people who share a common mission: advancing the Weizmann Institute’s pursuit of science for the benefit of humanity. The American Committee partners with individuals, families, foundations, and the business community to develop philanthropic funding for the Institute; educates the American public about the Institute’s research; and represents the Institute’s interests in the U.S.

On the Weizmann Institute campus in Rehovot, Israel, around 3,800 scientists, graduate students, highly skilled research technicians, and the staff who support them come to work every day with the goal of solving the most challenging problems facing humankind: climate change, world hunger and malnutrition, cancer and other diseases, safety and security, to name just a few. For more than 80 years, the Weizmann Institute’s curiosity-driven scientists have made thousands of landmark breakthroughs, and they continue to strive to make thousands more.

 

PHI Launches Redesigned Website

Constructive is proud to announce the launch of PHI’s new and improved website. A year in the making, we worked with PHI to develop a site that would make their services, research and policy work inviting to explore and easy to navigate. The new workforce data center features state-by-state data on direct care workers that provides customized, up-to-date snapshots on the workforce, and allows users to compare data on wages and employment statistics across states and over time.

PHI is a nonprofit based out of New York City that works to transform eldercare and disability services. As the nation’s leading authority on the direct care workforce, PHI promotes quality direct care jobs as the foundation for quality care. Drawing on 25 years of experience working side-by-side with direct care workers and their clients in cities, suburbs, and small towns across America, PHI’s trainers, researchers, and policy experts work together to:

  • Learn what works—and what doesn’t—in meeting the needs of direct care workers and their clients, in a variety of long-term care settings;
  • Implement best practices through hands-on coaching, training, and consulting, to help long-term care providers deliver high-quality care; and
  • Support policymakers and advocates in crafting evidence-based policies to advance quality care.