Call for volunteers!

Call for volunteers!

Would you like an opportunity to make an important impact on how the media covers people of all races in our community? We're hoping you can join us for just few hours, for one session of an upcoming study that we're conducting.

Background: Structural racism and unconscious bias have a significant impact on poverty in greater Rochester. Indirect experiences, like messages seen in the media, play an important role in shaping attitudes towards race. To better understand the effects of local media on racial attitudes, Causewave is conducting a scientific study.

We're recruiting a group of volunteers to help analyze a large set of local media content and assess how different racial groups are currently represented.

What's involved: You will be trained by our professional research partners at the start of each session. You will then answer brief questionnaires about local media stories (print and recorded TV).

Timing: 3-hour sessions will be held the following dates...

Thursday 1/18 4–7pm
Saturday 1/20 9am–12pm
Monday 1/22 4–7pm
Thursday 1/25 4–7pm
Monday 1/29 4-7pm
Thursday, 2/1 4-7pm

Note: It is important to the study’s design that we recruit a racially balanced volunteer team.

Who’s a good fit: Any adults with availability during one or more sessions. No background in media or marketing needed.

Location: All sessions will all be held at RIT.

Please let me know if you are available to participate in a session. If you have friends, family, or colleagues who may be interested, please spread the word!

If you have any questions, please email me or call 442-0200 x206.

Thanks so much!
 Marta Driscoll
 Program & Outreach Manager

Finding fresh framework, message, and voice

Finding fresh framework, message, and voice

The Partner

Each year, Sojourner House at PathStone provides shelter, structure, strength, and inspiration to more than 250 women their families. When women arrive in the transitional housing program, 82% struggle with alcohol abuse, 94% deal with drug dependency, and 75% are victims of domestic violence.

Sojourner House helps people transition into permanent housing and gives them the tools they need to succeed so they can avoid homelessness in the future. One graduate describes it as “a house of miracles where lives are transformed. It is a sanctuary, where nurturing of the spirit begins, where the process of healing and loving of self takes place.”

The need

In recent years, Sojourner House merged with Wilson Commencement Park, a Rochester community where low-income single-parent families can transition from public assistance to financial independence and personal self-sufficiency. The merger meant changes in leadership, organizational structure, and services for Sojourner House. They needed help clearly articulating what they offer, the impact they have, what makes them unique — all important considerations when convincing donors they’re a smart choice to invest in.

Our Approach

Before launching a marketing effort, we recommended doing some groundwork to help their team come to consensus on the organization’s brand.

First, we conducted a survey with program participants, the board, volunteers, partner organizations, donors, and funders. Next, we facilitated exercises with their staff and board to prioritize target audiences and agree on language that clearly and consistently articulates who Sojourner House is and what they do.

“That process was critical to us,” says Dr. Seanelle Hawkins, Executive Director at Sojourner House. “It got our board thinking in a different way.”

And, once they had a plan ready to put into action, we were there to assist them every step of the way—with strategic thinking and resources.

“Later, if we got stuck, I’d call Todd Butler at Causewave” Seanelle says.


Today, Sojourner House has a fresh framework, message, and voice to tell their story. Their work with Causewave was instrumental in helping them clarify who they are today, both as a unique organization, and one that benefits from the added resources of being joined to Wilson Commencement Park. And the relationship didn’t end with strategic planning or marketing. It’s an ongoing partnership that continually brings value to the table.

I know first-hand the capacity Causewave builds and now, my CEO is working with their team on an even bigger initiative for the future. Causewave makes resources available that we couldn’t otherwise afford. They connect us to innovative individuals throughout the Rochester community. Their team helped Sojourner House fully understand the asset we are to the community, and gave us the language and strategy to tell people our story.
— Dr. Seanelle Hawkins, Executive Director

Partnerships like these have extraordinary ripple effects: Stable communities. Economic independence. Continued education. Safety and security. Family unity.

By working with organizations like Sojourner House, we get the chance to play a role in tackling many of our community's most pressing challenges. We were grateful for the opportunity to work alongside their team.

It's more than marketing

It's more than marketing

In 2014, Causewave began working closely with Rochester’s Summer Meals program, with the goal of ensuring that every child and youth in the City of Rochester has access to free and healthy summer meals.

The Need

In the Rochester City School District, 82% of students qualify for free and reduced-price meals.

Causewave began working on the project shortly after the Center for Governmental Research completed a needs assessment, which found:

  • Nearly 21,000 RCSD students participated in the free and reduced-price school lunch program in 2012.
  • Only 4,750 students participated in Summer Meals.
  • Leaving a gap of approximately 16,000 students.

Our Approach

To close that gap, Causewave has been working to increase awareness of summer meals among school officials, parents, other family members, and community groups. We also collaborate closely with other partners to support projects that make the Summer Meals program more appealing, empowering, accessible, and efficient.


Innovative new ways to distribute Summer Meals

In 2016, we helped launch a “mobile meals” pilot, which brought Summer Meals directly to four locations where young people already gather, play, and learn during the summer months. The pilot succeeded in attracting more kids to eat meals provided, and this year grew to ten locations, including libraries, parks, and other community sites.

New mobile and user-friendly website

To ensure children and parents can easily find the closest Summer Meals site, we developed a new website that treats kids and parents respectfully as customers – quickly answering questions about locations, menus, and eligibility.

Collaboration and alignment of partners

The Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester includes numerous nonprofits and government agencies who partner to provide meals and promote the program. In partnership with Common Ground Health and the Community Foundation, Causewave helps to quarterback this group’s joint efforts that ensure the program operates seamlessly. Now delivery routes are now efficiently aligned, decisions about new site locations are made strategically, and participants can expect similar positive experiences at all sites.

Summer Meals participation is up 24% over the last 3 years.

Our most recent data shows:

Not only do we have a dedicated staff person from Causewave to help us implement our marketing plan, but Causewave has been a partner in helping us analyze our communications. To ask: Who’s missing from the table? What conversations do we need to be having throughout the community? It’s more than marketing. It’s experts from so many areas.
— Dina Faticone, Director of Community Health and Engagement at Common Ground Health

This success story has a cascading effect: Positive experiences children and youth. Less-stressed parents. Students who retain more of what they learn. Lower obesity rates. Better outcomes for the next generation.

So much good begins with you.

We couldn't do this work alone: a broad coalition of donors, foundations, and volunteers have made countless critical contributions to this important project. Staff and volunteers at partner organizations show extraordinary dedication to the goals. It’s a testament to the spirit of community that sets Greater Rochester apart.

Primary partners: Foodlink, Rochester City School District (RCSD), City of Rochester, Common Ground Health, Rochester Area Community Foundation (RACF)

Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester members: Common Ground Health, Foodlink, RCSD, City of Rochester, RACF, Horizons, YMCA, Youth Voice One Vision, Kids Thrive 585, Law NY, Children's Agenda, Urban League, Hunger Solution

Bringing A Brand To Life: REOC Case Study

Bringing A Brand To Life: REOC Case Study

At the end of our work helping a nonprofit develop their brand, we always share this nugget of truth: brand ownership is not the same as memorization. The Rochester Educational Opportunity Center (REOC) recently provided a stellar example of how we can all think about bringing our brand to life by engaging our teams, whether staff, board, trustees or volunteers.

REOC came to Causewave to help develop a brand platform that truly describes their organization, which operates in a field that has changed dramatically in the last decade. REOC is part of the statewide network of ten Educational Opportunity Centers (EOCs). It has provided quality, tuition-free, short-term College Preparation, Career and Technical training for adults in the Rochester area for over 45 years. It is sponsored, in part, by The College at Brockport.

From the beginning, REOC leaders focused on shared ownership in the process, putting together a diverse team of employees and stakeholders from across the organization, including employees at all levels, to participate in the brand development workshop. Together, they developed a brand platform that is rich, well-rounded and aligned with where the REOC is heading.

To begin breathing life into their new brand, Roosevelt Mareus, Dean/Executive Director of the REOC, brought together the full REOC staff to kick off the new school year. Everyone was given a tutorial on what the concept of brand means and its importance, survey results from the process, and an overview of how the brand was developed during the workshop.

Three staff members, who participated in the workshop presented the REOC brand platform: Wendy (faculty) presented the target audiences, Jeannette (professional staff) presented personality traits and brand essence, and Doug (maintenance) presented the brand promise.  They didn’t just read the brand elements, they talked about what each one means and how they plan to truly incorporate it into their own daily actions.

In the spirit of ownership, Roosevelt then asked people to pair up to role-play one thing they could do right away to start living the brand. Volunteers enthusiastically shared many examples that it turned into a fun competition among the employees. Roosevelt took the stage to cheer-lead and challenge everyone to start living the brand right away. As someone who leads by example, Roosevelt shared how he plans to begin by focusing on incorporating the brand promise into internal operations.

To cap the event, Roosevelt did his best Oprah audience giveaway impression and passed out t-shirts that have the REOC brand essence on the front and personality traits on the back.

REOC and Causewave worked collectively to develop our brand platform. Causewave did a great job with helping us to create a successful and exciting brand,” shared Roosevelt. “Our faculty and staff wear our brand t-shirts with pride, knowing that REOC has been and will continue to create ‘Life-changing opportunities.’

Causewave is excited to see REOC staff so enthusiastically embracing the results of the hard work that their colleagues put into developing such a thoughtful brand platform. We look forward to seeing REOC continue to expand their impact in our community through free, hands-on training and connections to in-demand jobs.

If you have questions about bringing your organization's brand to life, give us a shout at or 442-0200.

Spotlight: Sara Wallace

Spotlight: Sara Wallace

I think of Butler/Till as a media planning company. What does that mean and how do you describe your role there?

Media is such an interesting term…it makes a lot of people think of print ads or the ads they see on Facebook. As part of the Account Team, it’s our responsibility to tell our clients and our partners what we can really bring to the table. It’s not just that we can buy this print ad or that digital ad for you – it’s using media to spread the right message in the right places at the right time and making smart decisions in the future based on the insights we gain.

Butler/Till has a reputation as a great place to work. What do you think is the secret sauce?

The reason why I came here was the culture. I knew I wanted to be around good people, who are highly motivated and want to make the organization stronger. Part of why Butler/Till is like that is because the interview process focuses on how candidates will add the the culture. Once we're on board, we're an employee-owned company, so everything we do directly affects the business, no matter your title. The leadership here does a great job talking about that and attributing every achievement to their entire team.

You’ve volunteered (a ton) with us both as a representative of Butler/Till and as an individual. What made you want to become so involved?

At Butler/Till one of our principles is to step up and not out. It doesn’t just apply to our internal work here, it speaks to reaching out and investing in the Rochester community as well. One way I do that is by participating in projects with Causewave. When moved here in 2015, I wanted to get more involved because I’m not originally from Rochester. I needed to learn more about this community and understand what Rochester is so I was asked to consider the board position. Originally it was to get a better feel for everything, but now it’s become something that just feels good to be a part of.

The media landscape is always changing. How do you keep up?

I was recently out on maternity leave for 12 weeks. On my first day back at work, I sat in on a conference call. After about 20 minutes I got up and walked out. I was so overwhelmed about how much had changed in just 12 weeks. Audiences shifted and the information you can pull from platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn had changed. You can never sit back...keeping up is a constant project. What helps, is that on every team here, we have designated experts who dedicate time monitoring new trends and act as resources to catch the rest of us up. I also subscribe to a boatload of newsletters and spend 15 minutes in the morning to skim them.

Anything else going on in your life right now you want to share?

I had a baby girl four months ago, so that’s definitely the biggest thing going on in my life right now. It has completely changed me in a lot of ways I didn’t expect. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and having a girl in particular has made me think about what kind of woman I want my daughter to become and what I can do to lead by example. I have a real opportunity to stay involved, get more involved, and then be able to get my daughter involved too. I want her to learn about giving back and staying true to her beliefs and accepting of others.

Spotlight: Krystal Starks

Spotlight: Krystal Starks

We recently met with Krystal Starks to learn about her experience interning at Causewave:

M: How did you first get involved with Causewave?
K: A counselor from DePaul was familiar with Causewave and encouraged me to apply for a graphic design internship. I am glad I did because I love working here. It's such a comfortable office and everyone sees and accepts me.

M: You have done a lot of design for us for various causes and programs. Of all the projects you have worked on, which would you say was your favorite?
K: This spring I designed a series of ads thanking Causewave supporters. It was my favorite because it involved many new challenges for me, so I really benefited from the experience. My second favorite was creating pieces for the Annual Celebration in May because I actually got to see what I created at the event, which made me so proud. 

M: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
K: I was born in Jackson, Mississippi and raised in Chicago, Illinois. It was very interesting moving from South to North. I am more of a Southern person. I went to Rochester Institute of Technology because there is a deaf community where I could connect with both the hearing and the deaf world. I studied at RIT for six years and finished with two degrees, in graphic design and web development.

M: What would your dream job be?
K: After this internship, it's my dream to find a permanent position in graphic design or any media art technology. In this internship I'm working on gaining experience, so I can be ready to jump in as a professional designer. Please find me in LinkedIn and check out my recommendations!

M: What is something that the readers would be surprised to know about you?
K: I think some of my friends are surprised I know how to write code for websites (since I am a woman). Also, I normally talk with no voice when I'm using American Sign Language, which is pretty unusual.

- Interview with Marta Driscoll and Krystal Starks


Facebook for Audience Research

Facebook for Audience Research

Hillside reached out to Causewave last fall because they faced challenges recruiting qualified Foster Care families for the youth they serve. Peter Platt of Accountable Digital volunteered his digital advertising expertise on the project.

We began by holding focus groups with current foster families to identify audiences such as empty nesters and LGBTQ couples who might be more likely to foster a child (thanks to Crux Research for facilitating!). We then tested Facebook ads with various images, audiences, and messages to learn what combinations would drive the most inquiries.  

As groups showed inclination or opted out, we were able to evaluate, in almost-real time, how to better hone our audience, messages and imagery.

Here are four lessons we learned:

1) Facebook is a great place to test out different audiences because users are very honest and forthcoming about themselves on the platform. For instance, users usually don’t lie about their age because they're typically friends with people from high school. The robust data provided by this platform allows hyperfocused targeting that limits wasted advertising dollars on targeting the wrong people.

2) The more variables you want to test, the more expensive it is to do effectively. Fortunately, our preliminary focus group research allowed us to narrow 16 variables down to 8 before we began testing on Facebook.

3) Message testing is worth every penny! Facebook is a reasonable option for conducting A/B and even multi-variable testing. In our case, we needed a weekly budget of about $500 to get a directional read on which messages were most effective, but our test had more variables than a typical A/B test. A true single-variable test would require a significantly smaller budget.

4) Unlike traditional market research (like a survey or focus group), Facebook campaigns generate leads and clicks while the research is being conducted.  So, your dollars are working twice as hard!

The results

"This effort led to a significant increase in foster care inquiries and trainings for Monroe County." said Carly Layton, our partner from Hillside. "After our Causewave pilot, we extended the program directly with Accountable Digital to target key audiences in Hillside’s other regions, all of which are showing similar positive results. This was one of the first times Hillside undertook a dedicated marketing/messaging test. Causewave’s approach helped us clearly identify steps and milestones to manage, and show program results in a clear, comprehensive manner."

Our conclusion

Facebook advertising can be an affordable and powerful tool for nonprofits to make small marketing budgets go further. If you try an audience or message test, let us know how it goes! If you have questions, contact us at

Many Barriers to Cancer Screening

Many Barriers to Cancer Screening

We’re partnering with the Cancer Services Program of Monroe County, Martino Flynn, and Myers Creative Imaging and nearly a dozen nonprofit organizations to refresh our current cancer screening initiative. This initiative works to encourage more people to get potentially life-saving breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings.

From behind the scenes at a recent video shoot, we heard volunteers share how cancer has affected their lives. One individual grabbed our attention and our heart strings with his incredible story. Patrick, age 67, is a grateful survivor of prostate cancer. His case was detected early by a prostate screening test.

After losing his father and four brothers at an early age to cancer, Patrick was motivated to get screened. Thankfully he did, because Patrick says he wouldn't be alive today without it.

As a survivor of prostate cancer whose cancer was detected early enough for cure, I have learned that cancer respects no boundaries and early detection saves lives.
— Patrick

The mood changed though as he spoke of barriers that are holding him back from getting screened again. His high health insurance premiums and fear the test might be positive mean he's reluctant to get screened for colon cancer.

His story was a powerful reminder to us that awareness alone won't solve the problem. There are so many other barriers to getting screened. To succeed, we must help people overcome these barriers and dispel the misconceptions around cancer screening.  

Keep an eye out for the public launch of this initiative within the next few months. If you'd like to learn more or get involved, please contact Mary Hadley, Senior Program Manager, at

#ROC National Volunteer Week

#ROC National Volunteer Week

April 23rd-29th marks National Volunteer Week! Join us in recognizing and thanking volunteers who lend their time, talent, voice and support to causes in our community. 

Here's a quick, easy way to participate. There's a good chance you'll win a prize! 

Here's the deal: 
1. Post a picture of someone who's a gold star changemaker (volunteer) on your Twitter or Instagram account. If you post on Facebook, please make sure to tag Causewave (our website can't pull them in directly). 
2. Write a caption about why this changemaker inspires you
3. Include the hashtag: #ServiceUnitesROC
4. All posts will appear on the tagboard below. 
5. All posts will be entered into a prize drawing as a small token of appreciation! First prize: Fuego Burundi coffee and set of Causewave mugs. To keep things simple, the person who posts gets the prize – feel free to share it with the nominee! 

Nonprofit Partner Sponsorship Opportunity

Nonprofit Partner Sponsorship Opportunity

2017 Annual Celebration Nonprofit Partner Opportunity


As a Nonprofit Partner Sponsor for this event, your organization would be a financial sponsor at the $500 level in exchange for public recognition at the event and a $500 credit to be applied to a future Causewave program.


In exchange for supporting this event, you will receive:

  • A $500 credit towards any Causewave Community Partners program (program credit is good through May 18, 2018)
  • A one-hour consultation with Causewave staff on your organization's challenges and opportunities. Whether it's strategic planning, brand development, marketing planning or something in between, we've been there, and we can help (value of $250)
  • A display table in the lobby on May 11th (7am-10am)
  • 2 tickets to the event breakfast (value of $45 each)
  • Listing in the event program
  • Year-long Causewave membership benefits


Our mission is to help you meet your mission. Here are some examples of the type of work we've done.


Our Annual Celebration audience is a unique blend of leaders from the government, nonprofit, media, marketing, and corporate communities. Each year, 500+ people attend the breakfast, making this a unique opportunity to network with some of Rochester's greatest change makers.


Our 2017 keynote speaker is Robin Koval, CEO & President of Truth Initiative, the largest national public health organization dedicated to ending tobacco use. We're thrilled to bring Koval to Rochester to share her organization's battle with the tobacco industry for the lives of our youth.


Thursday, May 11, 2017 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. (Registration begins at 7:30 a.m.)

Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center (123 East Main Street | Rochester, NY 14604)


Contact Beth Hershel and she can sign you up or answer any questions. Email her at: or call: 585-442-0200 x202.


Ticket purchases can be made online here until May 9th. Hope you can join us!

Cold Can't Stop Us

Cold Can't Stop Us

Winter is back - with a vengeance! For young children who walk or take the bus to school, this weather is especially tough. Each year, when temperatures drop, the Rochester City School District sees a rise in the number of students who miss school.

This winter, we're working with dozens of partners on a 100-day challenge called “Cold Can’t Stop Us.” It's a collaborative effort to achieve 97% attendance for city students in pre-k through 3rd grade from February to the end of April. Chronic absence at this age makes it hard for kids to be successful in later years.

We're not doing this alone. The ESL Charitable Foundation provided a grant to support this project. Strong National Museum of Play donated family passes for anyone in the 14 target schools who meets the challenge goal. Local meteorologists are reminding viewers of the importance of bundling kids up and getting them to school every day.

Pro bono ads are being contributed by PODER 97.1, WDKX, Lamar Advertising, and Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority. And a special shout-out goes to Partners + Napier for their continued leadership and ongoing pro-bono support of this initiative. 

“This outpouring of support makes it clear that excellent attendance is a true community priority.” – Todd Butler, Causewave President & CEO

Learn more about the Every Minute Matters initiative here.

Spotlight: Elizabeth Chatterton

Spotlight: Elizabeth Chatterton

We recently sat down with Liz Chatterton to chat about her work, volunteer service, and of course, beer advice: 

M: Can you talk a little bit about what you do?
E: I’m a copywriter by trade. I work with The Zimmet Group on all kinds of communications writing. We primarily do training and development work and e learning. So, I work on whatever writing needs to get done here. It comes in many different forms.

M: How did you first get involved with Causewave?
E: I’m originally from Rochester, but I lived in Buffalo for six years after college. I was very involved in the Advertising Club there and really enjoyed being a part of that larger marketing community. When I moved back to Rochester, I wanted to get involved and found Causewave. It seemed like a great fit, because it offers a chance to combine volunteering and my professional life.

M: You’ve done a ton to support Causewave’s work lately, including participating in our event committee, attending various strategic roundtables, and leading fundraising efforts and events. Do any of those roles stick out as particularly fun or rewarding?
E: Last summer, I helped with the Join the Wave Indiegogo campaign. There was some added pressure because we had a specific goal and it was important to meet it, but that just made it more rewarding, once we were successful.
M: Well our team is so excited to see all that work and the generous contributions come to life in the construction.  

M: Everyone has different ideas about how to make a difference in the community. What’s your philosophy?
E: I try to pick causes that are relevant to me personally. I’ve volunteered with Gilda’s Club in the past because a lot of people in my family were impacted by cancer, including cousins who lost their mother when they were very young. So, it was important to me to volunteer with Gilda’s programs for kids. That was an amazing experience, but at the same time I also want to think about how I can make the biggest impact. I have certain talents – so while I loved playing air hockey and coloring, my time is limited and I feel like I can make a bigger impact using my professional skills to make a difference.

M: Are there any personal projects you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?
E: I’m currently working on my first book. It’s a collection of human-interest stories that are particularly relevant to the Rochester community. I’m working on the details now, so stay tuned. I’m also planning an upcoming comedy night fundraiser to benefit the Every Minute Matters Initiative. I think it will be a fun way to support a good cause – and it’s a little bit different than some of the other events coming up.

M: I’ve heard you’ve a beer aficionado. Is there anything you’ve tried recently that you’d recommend?
E: I like to support local breweries as much as possible – and Switftwater and Stoneyard are two of my favorites. The Swiftwater DIPA, Brah is delicious, if you like citrusy IPAs. 

M: What might readers be surprised to know about you?
E: It’s generally surprising to people that I worked in the beer industry for seven years. I probably know more about beer than most big, burly, bearded men.  That’s unexpected.

M: Any last thoughts you’d like to share?
E: This seems like a pivotal time for our country and I’ve gathered that a lot of people are looking for ways to make an impact. It’s a great time to get involved in an organization that’s important to you - or step up what you’re already doing. It might seem like a small thing, to volunteer your time but if everyone does these small things we can make some big changes.

-March 8 Interview with Marta Driscoll and Elizabeth Chatterton


Service Above Self

Service Above Self

What would you do if your major funder cut back on their support? The Rotary Clubs of Monroe County recently faced this dilemma with Camp Haccamo; a very special summer camp serving approximately 200 children and young adults with different abilities – all at no cost to camper families.

At this point, the board knew their current funding model was unsustainable. With their reserve funds quickly eroding, they asked Causewave to help revive Camp Haccamo’s fundraising program.

Our work together began with a survey designed to test current perceptions of Camp Haccamo. It survey confirmed what the board was feeling – that those who know Camp Haccamo, love it. For campers, it gives them an amazing adventure, away from home, for a full week. For caregivers, it provides much-needed respite.

The survey also revealed that many Rotarians had no relationship with the Camp, despite the support provided by their dues. The Rotary has been the primary funding source for the camp, so this disconnect exposed a threat.

Michael Ponomarev, a Causewave volunteer, conducted community-wide research on similar camps in Monroe County. He found that Camp Haccamo is unique in its breadth of different abilities it serves, and that there is an opportunity to serve many more families in need.

Armed with the research findings, the Camp Haccamo board participated in a brand development workshop facilitated by Causewave. The group developed a new brand platform that defined Camp Haccamo’s target audiences, personality traits, and their brand promise.

The brand came to life in an inaugural fundraising appeal last fall. With the letter, Camp Haccamo began building relationships with two key audiences. A long-time Camp Haccamo family shared their story with Rotarians, and an enthusiastic camp counselor shared her experiences with other potential donors. 

Keeping in mind Causewave's goal of capacity building, our staff worked closely with Camp Haccamo's board on the 2016 appeal, while preparing them to run it independently this fall. Together, we created a project plan, vetted the donor list, created appeal templates and e-blasts, assisted with website optimization, and wrote customized thank you letters.

Camp Haccamo board member, Dick Butler, sent a note to project manager Mary Hadley saying, “It has been a pleasure working with you and Causewave on completing this project. You’ve shown a warm, can-do approach, focusing on solving the problems as they arose. Thank you for that!” 

And we thank the Camp Haccamo board, and staff, for living their motto of “service above self,” as they passionately continue such important work in our community!

March 2017

Spotlight: Steve Marikos

Spotlight: Steve Marikos

We recently met with Steve Marikos to learn about his experience partnering with Causewave:

Can you talk a little bit about what you do?

When you boil it down, I’m a small business owner. I’m an insurance agent, though I like to say I’m in the protection business. We protect personal property, and offer life insurance, retirement assets, and voluntary workplace benefits.

In November, I celebrated my 40th anniversary with Allstate. I’ve worked since I was 9 years old and I’ve only had 2 employers: my dad’s restaurant and Allstate.  

How did you first get involved with Causewave?  

A few years ago, when the Allstate Foundation first considered sponsoring the local Distracted Driving Initiative, they asked me if I wanted to get involved with the steering committee. Since then, I’ve remained involved with the committee and secured funding through the Allstate Foundation each year. 

You support our work in a lot of ways – as a Potter Society member, corporate supporter, and even as a Summer Smash bartender. Is there a project that has been most rewarding? 

I like the Distracted Driving committee's effort to raise awareness and change behaviors with high schoolers. Getting schools to require distracted driving education before they can get a parking pass is great. I hope this can eventually become universal. 

What causes are you most passionate about?

Recently, the causes I’m focused on are domestic violence (physical and financial), distracted driving, and veterans. Before I bought the insurance business, I volunteered regularly at the art gallery at Otto’s House, a part of the Veteran’s Outreach Center. I’m not a veteran, but I appreciate everything they’ve done. I’m really looking forward to getting more involved when I retire. 

Do you have any thoughts or advice for other people who volunteer or support our work?  

Rochester has a lot of challenges. The best thing to get engaged in is a cause you have a real passion for. If you’ve got a passion for it, it won’t feel like a burden, it will actually fuel you. Rather than spread yourself thin across a lot of causes, I’d say find a few and stick with them until you make a difference.

How do you take your coffee? 

I’ll drink just about any kind of coffee (or beer). I’m not high maintenance when it comes to that.

Every Birdy Welcome

Every Birdy Welcome

Behind the door of a construction trailer, sits nature-lover-turned-director, Natalie Payne, plotting trails and making plans. The doors of the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium are not yet open, but that doesn’t deter efforts to work from the outside in. The ultimate goal? To inspire appreciation and stewardship of the cultural heritage and ecological evolution of the vast Finger Lakes region. Work is well underway to convert the former Branchport Elementary School into a hub for nature-lovers, but preserving their 16-acre wetland adjacent to Sugar Creek, a Keuka Lake tributary, has been priority number one.

The Townsend-Grady Wildlife Preserve is a pristine ecosystem filled with a variety of mammals, birds and waterfowl species. The unique soft-shelled turtle has also chosen to call this beautiful wetland home. Currently, the preserve is only accessible by a few crude paths; finishing these pathways, adding boardwalks, building observation platforms, and installing interpretive signage allows residents and guests to experience its beauty responsibly, without disturbing the friendly inhabitants.

Due to the small size of the museum team, Causewave Community Partners was asked to help develop a crowdfunding campaign to raise $15,000 for these much needed additions. Fundraising efforts kicked off with an online appeal, inviting area residents and museum supporters to “Take a Walk on the Wet Side.” The project was also featured in the Democrat and Chronicle. A Keuka Lake resident mailer and a well-planned social media campaign also allowed for a broader reach, finding its way to an anonymous donor, whose contribution tipped the scales to exceed the fundraising goal.

“The last envelope I opened contained a $5,000 donation to the wetland campaign! Thank you so much for all of your really paid off.” - Natalie Payne, Executive Director

Causewave is continuing its partnership with the museum through the development of a museum membership program. Central to this work are two powerhouse volunteers, Nancy Bloom and Alan Cohen, who are bringing their years of market research and strategic planning experience to create a strategy that takes advantage of the Museum’s current program offerings, and will evolve as more of its vision comes to life.



Spotlight: John Myers

Spotlight: John Myers

Can you tell us a little bit about Myers Creative Imaging?

We’re a full service imaging company, doing both stills and motion. Having been around for close to 30 years now, we can help people who come to us with an idea develop it into a fully fleshed creative concept.

How did you get involved in volunteering with Causewave?

I think my first project was the Austin Putters Golf Tournament sometime in the late 1990s. Back then, many agencies would bring me in directly so I didn’t necessarily know the staff at The Ad Council or the details of what they were working on. I then helped with creative for events many years, including the Mad Magazine concept in 2003, Golf to the Xtreme in 2004, and this year’s inaugural Summer Smash.

You’ve partnered with us on a long list of projects. It there one that’s been most rewarding?

The videos I’ve been working on for the Join the Organ Donor Registry initiative the last few months have been really impactful. It’s been great to have the opportunity to share stories of local people whose lives have been saved by receiving an organ transplant. And the team at Finger Lakes Donor Recovery are so passionate about expanding the registry to save more lives– they’ve been wonderful to work with.

We notice you’ve got a special knack for making people feel comfortable in front of a camera. How do you do it?

It’s always been important to me that the studio is a welcoming place that people actually look forward to coming to. We try to keep that consistent in everything we do, from having an inviting space, to how we make everyone who comes to the studio feel at home. Even people who’ve been in front of the camera many times can get stiff and need help letting their authentic self come through.

How do you take your coffee?  

I like to say I’m naturally caffeinated so I don’t drink coffee to keep me going during the day. That said, I’m Italian and enjoy a nice espresso with dinner. When I do drink coffee, I like a quality brew. I even bought a Royal Dutch Coffee maker on a trip to Belgium once. It’s amazing – look it up on YouTube.

Do you have any advice for other people who volunteer with us?

I’ve been tremendously fortunate in this life. As I get further into my career, what’s important to me is giving back to the community that has been so generous to me. As creatives we have a special opportunity to make a difference in our community because we have the ability to move people. We have to use our talents to give back.

Library Transforms into 21st Century Hub of Discovery

Library Transforms into 21st Century Hub of Discovery

A time traveler from all the way back in 2005 wouldn’t even recognize the Gates Public Library of today. First of all, it is no longer in the same location. And second, the former small, dated facility has been replaced with a beautiful, two-story glass, steel and wood structure on Elmgrove Road. Utilization is up – way up – and a new energy permeated the new place. 

“All the success we were having was great,” according to Greg Benoit, Library Director. “But it was also bringing the library to a crossroad. The needs of the community had changed and our programs and resources were in high demand. The library needed to evolve quickly to keep up with changing technology and the interests of our patrons. We were concerned that if we couldn’t do that, we’d lose the momentum we’d built. We wanted to find a way to use this energy to become the hub of community activity and life-long learning in Gates.”

State and local funding covered the cost of library operations, but didn't provide the library the additional resources to achieve their ambitious goals. A group of passionate board members, staff and Friends of the Library decided to launch a foundation.

Causewave Community Partners worked with this group to develop a vision: The Gates Public Library Foundation would allow the library to innovate and demonstrate the success of pilot initiatives that support literacy efforts, make emerging technologies accessible to patrons, and create a vibrant place of discovery for the community.

To get the fledgling foundation off the ground, we partnered on a series of strategic planning efforts – from mission and vision development to a constituent survey, SWOT analysis, communications planning and support of their first annual appeal. David Robertson, of Linchpin Strategy, volunteered to partner with us on the communication plan and public relations efforts. 

Fundraising efforts kicked off last fall with a public appeal, inviting the community to support a new afterschool program with Neil Armstrong elementary school. The initiative was profiled in the Democrat and Chronicle and the appeal raised enough funds to launch the pilot this May.

“Causewave partnered with our group and really helped us find the direction we all believed we needed,” Benoit said. “They helped us develop a plan that we could implement, and we’ve been building on it ever since. We know where we’re going, and we are making real, visible progress towards getting there.”

Spotlight: Paul Infantino

Spotlight: Paul Infantino

This spring, Paul Infantino began volunteering with us.
He brought 20 years of experience assisting over 15 local and national nonprofit organizations, and offered to volunteer a couple hours each day to help with administrative projects. Paul also has years of experience with Salesforce, the CRM tool we use. 
In the past few months, Paul has been a huge help on internal projects that are making us more efficient and effective. He has also volunteered at several of our events, including our Annual Celebration and Nonprofit Workshop Series.

Paul’s deep commitment to improving our community is inspiring. We’re lucky to work with him and incredibly thankful for all of his support! 

Momentous Changes to Organ Donation Laws in NY

Momentous Changes to Organ Donation Laws in NY

On May 10th, Program Manager Elizabeth Murray and our partners at Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network traveled to Albany to meet with New York State Assembly members and advocate for four pieces of legislation that will increase the number of people enrolled in the NY organ donor registry. 

One priority this year was the extension of  "Lauren’s Law," an existing law that requires applicants at the DMV to answer the organ donor registry section of the application by either 1) choosing to enroll or 2) postponing their decision (in the past, the question could be skipped). In the first month after the original law went into effect, the percentage of people signing up at the DMV nearly doubled!

We are pleased to report that THREE of these four key pieces of legislation have now been passed by the NYS Assembly:  a 4-year extension of Lauren’s Law, which was scheduled to expire in October 2016; Young Adult Enrollment, allowing individuals aged 16 and older to enroll in the NYS Donate Life Registry; and the opportunity for residents to enroll through NY State's Online Health Insurance Marketplace.  We are hopeful that the remaining bill will be passed by the Assembly as well. 

Thanks to these legislative actions, people currently on the organ donation waiting list will have a greater chance of receiving a life-saving transplant!

Innovative partnership supports Distracted Driving Initiative

Innovative partnership supports Distracted Driving Initiative

Every month, hundreds of your friends and neighbors are ticketed for distracted driving. Phil Schultz gets to meet many of them.
And it's not because he is issuing those tickets – though he did that for 23 years as a uniformed officer. Today, Phil is founder of Empire State Safety Instructors (ESSI). ESSI offers a distracted driving diversion program for those convicted (first offense) of distracted driving.

His “Driven to Distraction” course serves three purposes: helping drivers understand how dangerous their distracted behaviors are, allowing drivers a chance to reduce the points on their license, and providing funding for distracted driving outreach efforts, in partnership with Causewave Community Partners.
In 2015, ESSI provided approximately $15,000 (through a portion of each course registration fee) to support Causewave’s work on preventing distracted driving. And there’s evidence it's working. 

New York State has gotten behind distracted driving prevention. That much is obvious to anyone driving down the Thruway, with Text Stops at every rest area. But the greatest evidence is the penalty for those caught: the combination of five license points and between $50 and $200 (plus surcharges) is a powerful disincentive for those who would look at their electronics instead of the road. (See more about the fees and fines here:

The good news is there’s at least some evidence local drivers may be getting the message. A recent street-side survey of 11,000 cars at intersections across our community showed 20% fewer distracted drivers than when measured two years before.

And that’s just fine with Phil Schultz. “I have spent my adult life trying to make roadways safer. I am happy to put myself out of business.”

Learn more about Causewave’s Distracted Driving Prevention campaign at Find Empire State Safety Instructors at