About

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Our talented team weaves ideas & solutions together to advance the issues we all care about.

iilo Creative Alliance, a certified B Corp, is a values-based creative services agency in Western Canada.

We deliver communication design solutions that simplify and amplify your world-changing social and environmental initiatives. iilo means “thread” in Spanish (spelled “hilo”) and is pronounced “ee-lo” in English. We’re inspired by the idea of interdependence and the threads that connect people to each other. Because we’re all connected.

Core team

A three photo banner
Eva portrait; U2 concert, San Jose; My mom’s home in Sparti, Greece

My focus at iilo is making sure the numbers balance. I love working with numbers and data and knowing that my role on the administrative side of iilo helps Madelen, Lisa, and the team, so everyone can keep doing the good work they do. While I’m not a creative person like the rest of the iilo team, I really admire other people’s creativity.

My favourite days of the week are payroll days! My passion is enjoying the people in my life in amazing places and making memories. I daydream about the places I want to visit in the world (dream location: Europe, to eat fancy food and desserts and drink fancy coffees). I’m a music fan and love going to concerts with Madelen, my concert buddy. I appreciate quiet moments too, like sitting around a campfire looking at the stars, or watching the ocean from the beach. I always enjoy a good TV show and documentary, which may explain why I think I’d make a good soap opera actress!

I’m honoured to live and work within Treaty 6, traditional territory of the nêhiyaw/Cree, Dené, Anishinaabe/Saulteaux, Nakota Isga/Nakota Sioux, and Niitsitapi/Blackfoot peoples, and homeland of the Métis.

Lisa with short brown hair with bangs wearing an olive green top and yellow circle earrings; west-coast beach with rocks and green algae and two small kids walking; green and blue painted collage with orange and pink details
Lisa portrait; my kiddos playing at a nearby beach on Vancouver Island; collage is one of my favourite art mediums 

My creativity allows me to see connections everywhere: to people, themes, and ideas. I put a lot of trust in serendipity, and am constantly challenging myself to create space to activate new project ideas. I do my best work when I let my intuition lead, so to tune in I usually need to be alone, caffeinated, and interruption-free.

I’m constantly inspired by our clients’ visions to create solutions for a more sustainable world that our children will inherit. I’m impatient and know our time to make meaningful change is limited. That urgency is a pretty good filter for the type of work I’m interested in doing. I lost my dad to cancer a few years ago, so that’s also been surprisingly motivating. When you lose someone you love, YOLO takes a front seat.

I moved to Vancouver Island to be closer to my twin sister so we can raise our young families together. I love going on hikes, building things out of repurposed materials, and puttering in the garden. I also love making stuff with my kids — this summer the challenge is a tree fort!

I’m honoured to live and work on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw & Coast Salish.

A three photo banner Madelen Portrait
Portrait in Parksville; me and my daughter in front of our favourite Jim Henson quote; Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Writing, making art, listening to music, and decorating spaces have always been my creative passions. I was inspired by the revolutionary Sassy Magazine — a feminist teen publication in the 90s which blew my mind — to pursue a writing career. This led to work in communications and managing creative teams. I’m so grateful to be doing what I love every day, with good music always playing in the background!

I believe the work we do locally at a micro level to address issues, uplift people, and improve our communities can have a big collective impact globally. The potential for all corners of the world to be filled with healthy communities is what motivates me. Helping our dedicated clients to solve the issues they’re passionate about is how I contribute to this vision.

The website we built for Project Seahorse exemplifies for me how a small group’s work can have a big ripple effect on ecosystems and communities. I’m also inspired by our work for Earnest Ice Cream, which shows that even a fun product like ice cream can have positive impacts on people and the planet.

In my free time, I love thrifting for house stuff, reading, making art with my kids, volunteering for my community league, and walking and cycling around Edmonton.

I’m honoured to live and work within Treaty 6, traditional territory of the nêhiyaw/Cree, Dené, Anishinaabe/Saulteaux, Nakota Isga/Nakota Sioux, and Niitsitapi/Blackfoot peoples, and homeland of the Métis.

Maxine portrait; family forest walk; beachcombing at Rathtrevor Beach

Growing up in a creative household, with parents who met in art college, I was immersed in art, music, and free-thinking. Creative endeavours were always encouraged and celebrated! This upbringing has shaped everything from my profession to my general approach to life.

I’m motivated by the power of design to convey and enhance ideas. I love to problem solve and my favourite projects are those where I can collaborate with clients to translate complex concepts, making them more accessible and easily understood.

When I’m not working, my favourite way to spend time is adventuring with my husband and energetic twin toddlers! I enjoy moving my body (hiking, swimming, spin cycling), creating with my hands (landscape painting, sewing), and exploring the world through books, plant life, and a fascination for outer space.

I’m honoured to live and work on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw & Coast Salish.

Rafael portrait; Space Shuttle Endeavour, California Space Center; view from a coffee shop in Vancouver

As a child growing up in Hong Kong, I loved to write and draw. As an adult, I’m fascinated by design thinking and I’ve dedicated my professional life to helping teams and projects succeed. No project is quite the same, so knowing when to follow processes and when to innovate is key.

The spirit of innovation also carries into my life. I began my career as a coder for video games and nearly became a yoga instructor at one point! Currently, with two decades of work experience, my core motivation is to leave the world a better place than before.

I try to enrich my life with different forms of art as much as I can, whether that’s television, movies, museums, comics, or books. I also like to explore cooking, though with mild success. I love to play board games and recently started playing Dungeons & Dragons. On the more active side, I enjoy swimming and running, and have even completed triathlons in the past. My wife and I love to travel and eat, creating the perfect combo for memorable adventures!

I’m honoured to live and work within the traditional territories of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla, S’ólh Téméxw/Stó:lō, Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, səl̓ilwətaɁɬ təməxʷ/Tsleil-Waututh, šxʷməθkʷəy̓əmaɁɬ təməxʷ/Musqueam, and Skwxwú7mesh-ulh Temíx̱w/Squamish peoples.

3 Photos: one of Richelle Filipino woman with long dark hair and a light coloured t-shirt in front of a tree, wood texture and a photo of ocean on a sunny day
Richelle portrait at Sombrio Beach; beachcombing; in my happy place (Sardinia, Italy)

I’ve owned a sketchbook since I was eight years old. Born and raised in the Philippines, and growing up on BC’s West Coast, I gained a diverse perspective and developed a love for learning and discovery. I enjoy translating abstract concepts, celebrating the unconventional, and applying an analytical eye to design. I’m deeply inspired by nature, which motivates me to bring a holistic and conscious approach to my work.

In my spare time, I like going surfing, spending the day on the beach, taking nature walks with my partner and our dog, and playing board games with friends and family.

I’m honoured to live and work on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Quw’utsun’ people.

Design collaborators

A three photo banner
Cate Arnold portrait; BC Tree infographic project; rice and quinoa pasta packaging redesign

My love for creating imagery began when I started illustrating landscapes and anything related to nature. I love everything about trees. Out in nature, I observe symbiotic relationships between plants and animals that help each other to strengthen their environments. I value this sense of collaboration deeply and it inspires me to make a positive impact as a designer by creating work that strengthens communities, where everyone wins. One of my favourite design projects has been creating some illustrations for this website!

I love hiking on trails and enjoying nature with friends and family in my free time. When I’m by myself, I’m usually hiking with a sketchbook. I also enjoy reading books and making comics. Once a month or so, I head to the library and borrow way too many books, usually graphic novels.

While I love nature, I also love the circus arts, and I know how to juggle three juggling balls! When I was 10, I was fascinated by the circus and I practiced tirelessly until I could juggle three balls as easily as I could ride a bike.

I’m honoured to live and work on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw & Coast Salish.

A three photo banner
Cheryl portrait; Granville Island illustration project; Neighborhood Small Grants website illustration

I’ve always been drawn to having a creative career. I love to build on my naturally bright, colourful, and playful design style in my greeting cards, and also love the problem-solving that comes with client work and each project’s unique brief.

I’m motivated by the potential my work has to make a difference, however small — whether it’s making someone smile because they received one of my cards, or a reader learning something new through a report I designed. I’m really drawn to educational projects and believe that thoughtful design has the potential to engage and inform the end user in a way that resonates with them and makes a positive difference in their life.

For fun, I host dinner parties, work on home decor projects, sew, and pick up new creative hobbies from time to time (anything from baking to block printing), and I love to travel. I won a beer-holding competition in Austria once, which is hilarious because the prize was beer, and I don’t drink beer at all!

I’m honoured to live and work on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Keiko Portrait, Book cover design "Good Food For All"
Modelling for my favourite local boutique; A pair of ink drawings inspired by my garden; My illustration for a greeting card; Strategic report designed for the Nelson Community Food Centre

Creativity is a core part of my identity and it influences my work as a graphic designer, and my role as a mother and family member. I’ve recently re-committed to being an artist too. It has been a pleasure to re-discover my art supplies and the meditative nature of making art.

It’s important to me to contribute to my community, support local, and empower others. It feels good to know that the iilo projects I collaborate on align with my values and create positive change in the world in their unique ways.

One of my favourite iilo collaborations is the annual CPHR BC & Yukon annual conference (5 years and counting!). It’s exciting to reimagine this event every year and ride the almost year-long wave all the way to the end, where hundreds of HR professionals experience our work at the big event. I also enjoyed working on the Invasive Species Council of BC brand refresh and illustrating a greeting card while working under Backyard Creative.

Some people may be surprised to know that I live rurally on 1.5 acres of farm land with my extended family in Canada’s first multi-unit certified Passive House, which was designed by my husband and built by him and his brother. During the warmer months, I love to work in my massive food garden, a real labour of love. Speaking of food, I make cooking videos in partnership with my local Community Food Centre to share my passion for cooking simple, nutritious recipes.

I’m honoured to live and work on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the snʕickstx tmxʷúlaʔxʷ (Sinixt).

Lan portrait; time management illustration; women in STEM illustration

I love asking, “What if?” and “Why?” Through the years of working with design agencies, as a part of in-house teams, and in my personal life, my favourite part has always been what comes after posing those big, open-ended questions.

My motivation comes from knowing that even the smallest details can make an impact on someone’s life. Imagine walking through an unfamiliar airport and knowing exactly where to go. Or recall the last time something made you smile. I love working in that headspace where creating accessible and joyful designs makes a difference.

For fun, I’m happiest when I’m in the water kayaking or swimming. I spend a lot of time in the garden and at my local ceramics studio. I also love to travel. As an avid sci-fi reader, I’m always on the lookout for more recommendations!

My first project with iilo was a healthcare website (case study coming soon!) and it was great to meet and work alongside other iilo collaborators.

I’m honoured to live and work on unceded and ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

A three photo banner
Laura portrait; watercolour illustration for children’s book; infographic for David Suzuki Foundation marine report

There’s no better feeling when the creative juices are flowing and magic is happening. Either by pen, watercolour, or computer, I love to create meaningful artwork and designs. My work motivates me to learn new ways to see the world and share my love for nature.

I’ve spent most of my life on Vancouver Island, but I was born in India, in a small mountain town called Kodiakannal (needless to say, my favourite food is curry!). I love to get outside and make the most of our island lifestyle. I’m a jack of all sports and an expert at none. Join me on a bike ride, run, hike, or swim! I recently started rock climbing and have unleashed my inner monkey.

My favourite projects with iilo have been the First Peoples Cultural Council’s Indigenous Languages Conference and the Nuxalk Nation branding.

Giving thanks to the Snuneymuxw and Coast Salish on whose traditional and unceded lands we live, work, and grow.

Mary-margret Degraaf with short dark hair wearing black on a yellow background; The City of Duncan Utility Box Beautification Project; A painted portrait of a black dog
Mary-margret Degraaf Designer and Illustrator ; The City of Duncan – Utility Box Beautification Project ; A portrait of my love “Olive”

I grew up in a family bursting with creativity, so imaginative energy is a natural part of my everyday life. I aim to infuse fun and joy into every project. I thrive on creating designs that not only catch the eye, but also spark a sense of delight, and generate energy through vibrant colours and playful compositions.

I find the collaborative aspect of design and shared creativity, especially when working closely with clients, truly exciting. There’s something incredibly rewarding about bringing their vision to life and creating designs that resonate with their goals. My most recent project was for iilo as my client! I designed our 2023 winter holiday share graphic.

I have pretty diverse interests outside of design. I previously studied American Sign Language and Deaf Studies for over five years. These days, when I’m not busy sketching or pushing pixels, you can find me at vintage consignment boutiques looking for vintage and thrifted fashion, my second passion. I also love swing dancing with my husband, upcycling clothing, and playing video games. And I recently obtained my motorcycle licence!

I’m grateful to live, work and play on the unceded traditional territory of the Ditidaht and Hul’qumi’num.

a portrait, a man standing by a truck and a docked boat
Me as a Web Developer, me as a Conservation Officer, me as a Boat.

Coding came into my life as a hobby, but it eventually grew into a full-time obsession. Now I’m passionate about coding and delivering precise, exceptional results. It’s all in a day’s work to understand what my clients aim to achieve with their websites and how they want things to look, feel, and operate. The best part is handing over a finished website and seeing that my clients are completely satisfied with it.

Gaming is a big part of my life. I run an online gaming community and built a custom mod for a zombie game. Although I’m all about technology these days, I actually have a degree in Conservation Enforcement and previously worked as a Conservation Officer in Manitoba for seven years. I also enjoy movies, television, reading, gardening, and spending time with friends and family. And I like walking to local cafes — sometimes making a detour to the Vancouver harbour to snap photos of ships at sunset!

I’m honoured to live and work on unceded and ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

A three photo banner Sarita Portrait in front of an old building
Sarita Mielke, Owner of WILD/FREE Creative, a design and illustration studio

My path as a creative is deeply rooted in my connection to nature and community, and my desire to protect our planet. I was born and raised on the coast of Vancouver Island, surrounded by immense natural beauty, my self-starter parents, my fraternal twin brother (we’re in vitro babies, thank you science!), and a supportive community. I developed a deep respect for nature and a unique perspective to do things differently. I apply original approaches to my work and believe the most authentic creative solutions are often ones created by hand.

Playing in the elements and being in harmony with the natural world is still a priority for me. When I’m not in the design studio, you can find me surfing, hiking, and cycle touring. I like to keep up my creative pursuits and also do pottery and printmaking.

My favourite iilo collaboration has been the Georgia Strait Alliance’s annual impact report and illustrations for Earnest Ice Cream. I love supporting environmental groups on a mission to leave the planet better than they found it.

I humbly acknowledge the ancestral territories of the Nuučaanuł Nations on which I gratefully live and work.

A three photo banner Trina sitting with her laptop and coffee cup working near the ocean, Middle: illustrated map of the sunshine coast, Trina in a kayak
Trina portrait; illustrated map; sea kayaking

With a passion for design, authenticity, and going beyond the ordinary, I bring stories and ideas to life. My years spent working as a designer in both agency and non-profit settings provided unique experiences on both sides of the spectrum: the tenacity and discipline of working in a fast-paced creative agency, and the importance of relationships and client experience in a non-profit realm. I strive to create impact within environmentally and socially-driven businesses and organizations. Beyond the desk, I seek beauty everywhere I can and channel this through painting, photography, and creative living.

I enjoy immersing myself in the natural world through sea kayaking, trail running, hiking, bouldering, and cross country skiing. I balance the adventures with campfire conversations, healthy cooking, painting, reading, and working on puzzles by candlelight. Interestingly, I grew up in the suburbs and never went camping (beyond the backyard) until I was in university. I now live in a tiny house on the ocean and can’t imagine my life without nature’s influence.

My favourite iilo collaboration is working with Vericatch.

I’m honoured to live and work on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the shíshálh and Coast Salish.

Communications collaborators

Crystal portrait; echinacea I grew from seed; exploring S’ul-hween X’pey (Elder Cedar) Nature Reserve with my rescue dog

My mission is to uplift others with curiosity, empathy, and creativity. This core motivation has led me to diverse experiences in tech, non-profit, education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship. Wherever I worked, I had always been the go-to person to help others communicate ideas clearly and concisely. Now, I’m excited to share my writing skills with iilo to create positive ripple effects in the world together.

When I’m not writing, I help job seekers and career changers pursue their unique definitions of success through private coaching and group workshops at Relocal. Inspired by my laughter yoga training and love for community-building, I infuse creativity, play, and connection into all that I do. I truly believe that’s how we’ll find new perspectives and innovative solutions to our toughest challenges.

In my spare time, you’ll find me growing food in my front yard (for humans and pollinators) and enjoying walks (preferably flat strolls close to nature or bakeries) with my partner and dog. As a 1.75 generation Chinese Canadian who grew up in Metro Vancouver, I now call beautiful Vancouver Island home.

Gratefully living, working, and being on the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw people.

A three photo banner: Hannah Portrait, blue book, pen and a coffee with a HM business card on wooden table, Hannah talking on her mobile phone
Hannah McCormick, Owner of HM Virtual Assistance and Co-host of the Showing Up Solo  podcast.

I’m motivated by my kids to use my social media know-how to help the team at iilo and other changemakers to put their work into action. The more I learn about the world my kids have inherited, the more disillusioned I feel. Luckily, I’ve also become aware of amazing people who can see past the fear and existential dread, to find hope and a path towards change. I believe it’s not too late to make the world a better place for our children and their children to live in.

Creativity permeates every aspect of my life, whether I’m drawing, sewing, writing, or problem solving. I credit a lot of my creative thinking to my dyslexia, which allows me to see the world in a unique way.

When I’m not running after my kids, I love working on my latest sewing project or colouring in my drawing prompt journal. I also watch an obscene amount of TV (my latest addiction is Ru Paul’s Drag Race!).

I’m honoured to live and work on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen, Stó:lō, Kwantlen, Stz’uminus, Musqueam, and Hul’qumi’num Treaty Groups.

Three Banner images of Lisa Manfield and her family
Harrison Hot Springs selfie; visiting a cat cafe with my kiddo; family time by the water in White Rock, BC

I’ve been a writer, editor, and content strategist for 20+ years. I got my start in magazine publishing, and have produced a wide range of publications — both in print and online. I continue to write for magazines now, but most of my focus is on producing content that helps to educate and engage online audiences.

I’ve always wanted to do work that is meaningful, in the sense that it makes people’s lives a little bit better. As a writer, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and share stories about many impactful people and projects — and the work I’ve done with iilo so far has really taught me a lot.

While English is my first language, people are often surprised to find out that I’m fluently bilingual. I’m originally from Montreal and was educated almost entirely in French. While I get a ton of personal satisfaction from my work, in my spare time I also love to read, swim, and hang out with my family.

I’m honoured to live and work on the traditional and ancestral lands of the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) people, otherwise known as Coquitlam.

Sophie portrait; view of the Gulf Islands; my kids checking on seedlings in the veggie beds I built

My writing experience includes co-authoring a book about land conservation published by Rocky Mountain Books, developing marketing and content strategy at a fundraising agency, and writing for a wide variety of print and digital platforms across Canada.

When I became a parent, it reinforced my desire to support causes that matter to me personally: nature conservation and projects that are advancing human rights. With newfound optimism, I’m motivated to focus on writing as an art, and storytelling as a means of sharing impact and inspiring empathy. That’s why I’m thrilled to be collaborating with iilo to amplify meaningful causes.

When I’m not supervising playground time, refereeing bathtime, or trying to help my kids enjoy vegetables, I enjoy gardening, biking, moving furniture around, and watching stand-up comedy. I’m also keen on long, invigorating walks with friends, ideally next to a body of water.

Something that’s surprising about me is that I often have candy in my pockets! Also, I’m most inspired to write by literary fiction authors (Lorrie Moore and Sally Rooney are two current faves) and stand-up comedians (ongoingly obsessed with Mae Martin).

I’m honoured to live and work on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples, and I acknowledge and respect the Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue today.

Collaboration Partners

A three photo banner Krisztina Portrait
Sointula selfie (from annual camping trip); reading at cafes (fave pastime); hiking with my partner in the mountains of BC

Krisztina is a web developer and strategist with 25 years’ experience in the non-profit sector. She has a BA in English from UVic, studied non-profit governance at the Justice Institute of BC, and completed an immersive Web Development program at Juno College of Technology in Toronto. Since 2010, she’s been building custom WordPress websites for progressive organizations. Krisztina is committed to creating inclusive, accessible websites and builds to a baseline of WCAG 2.2 AA standards. She approaches projects with empathy and candour and includes clients in technical decisions and accessibility work.

Vancouver, BC, unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sə̓lílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) territories.

Lesli and the sticker we designed for her for her 2022 run for Vancouver City Council; a shot from Lesli’s fall 2023 hiking trip in Corfu, Greece; a lovely autumn sunset captured at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal on the way to Victoria.

Lesli is president of Boldt Communications, a B.C.-based communications firm she founded in 2001. Boldt provides strategic communications and community relations advice and services to leading clients in the public, private and non-profit sectors, helping their clients to achieve their strategic and business goals. Like iilo, Boldt is known for their expertise in values-based approaches to strategic communication, advocacy, public affairs, community relations and non-profit communications. Lesli has deep roots and strong relationships in our communities, and believes in her clients and what they’re trying to achieve.

I’m honoured to live and work on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples, and I acknowledge and respect the Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue today.

To us, communication design is a tool to activate change, both for our clients, and our team. We combine our 20+ years of experience in web design, print design, and communications with your subject matter expertise, to create strategic design work that truly helps you further your mission and deepen your impact. If you ask our lovely clients about our team and services, they’ll tell you we’re strategic, collaborative, service-oriented (and nice!), and we deliver high-quality work on time and on budget. 

Our shared values

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Collaborative & inclusive

We believe we lift ourselves up when we support others.

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Mission-driven

We work with people committed to making the world a better place.

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Community-minded

We contribute to our communities & care deeply about the places where we work & live.

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Trustworthy

We set realistic expectations, take accountability & always deliver our best work.

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Impact-focused

We check our egos at the door & aim for the best solution, regardless of how we get there.

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Curious

We seek to understand and connect to your mission & respect your deep expertise.

Good for our clients and our team

At iilo, we believe impact-focused communication design can change the world. Our team’s design work communicates ideas effectively while considering its environmental, social, and economic impacts. Read more about our integrated approach to sustainable design.

Our impact

“iilo’s team not only understood our needs, but were responsive to feedback, met deadlines, and worked within the agreed-upon budget. We’re incredibly pleased with the end products and enjoyed working with iilo immensely.”

Melissa Giles
Project Lead, BC Rent Bank

As a women-owned business, we know how hard it is to juggle work and life. We founded iilo to create a flexible space for a diverse group of creative professionals (women, BIPOC, disabled, and LGBTQ2S+ creatives) to do impactful work while leading balanced lives. We know it can be hard (and messy), but we’re up for the challenge!

Want to connect better with your supporters?

A clear and focused brand will help you with that. Refine your mission, vision, and values now with our easy-to-use worksheet.

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