Our sleepless Forge 54 skilled-giving weekend is finally here!

Artboard 1.png

We may be crazy, but we’ve done it again! This weekend, 100+ marketing industry professionals gathered for our fifth annual Forge54 skilled-giving event. This year, our efforts will benefit the Ocean Institute, a nonprofit organization located in Dana Point that builds a deeper appreciation for the ocean and a better understanding of marine life.

More than 250,000 people visit Ocean Institute each year to take part in the 60+ educational and enjoyable programs offered. We plan on elevating their existing marketing efforts by revamping their brand logo, strategy, and website. Additionally, we will create videos, campaign templates, and social media posts to be used well after the weekend is over. Brand and messaging guidelines and a turnkey solution will be created for easy ongoing implementation. 

Want to get involved today? Donate to Forge54 to continue to make this event possible!

We’re now 24 hours into the 54-hour push, and the intensity is ramping up. Stay tuned to hear about all of the excitement to come!

Want to join in on the fun next year? See what we’re up to through the weekend! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Finally, a big thank you to our hosts, Innocean USA, for giving us a workspace and food to nourish our creativity. And special recognition for the sponsors who made our event possible: Allergan, Branded Design Anything, Cannabis Energy, Coast to Canyon, G Tech, Kettle Chips, KIND Bar, MAB, Media Distributors, Monster Energy, Niagara Water, Papo’s Cuban Kitchen, Primary Color, Smog City, Sparkhouse, Stone Fire Grill, Halal Guys, and Vita CoCo.

OC Register: Volunteers forging a path of support for nonprofits 


By Greg Mellen

gmellen@scng.com gregmellen on Twitter

Dan Pingaro, the president and CEO of the Ocean Institute, was giddy as he talked to about 100 marketing professionals and students who have taken on the Dana Point educational nonprofit as their special project for the weekend.

“I’m totally pumped,” said Pingaro, whose organization was chosen from about 80 nonprofit applicants looking for help to market themselves and more effectively reach and engage with the public, donors and clients. “What you do now is how we will go out and speak to the community for the next seven to 10 years. You’ll set the tone.”

Through Sunday, volunteers from Forge54 plan to help the Ocean Institute make a big splash in its branding, identity and online and marketing campaigns.

Pingaro said the first thing he heard when he joined the Ocean Institute in April was that his group was “the best-kept secret in Orange County.” That was not what he wanted to hear.

“These guys are going to create our brand DNA, which will be the architecture and framework for our brand,” Pingaro said.

At noon Friday, more than 100 young, tech-savvy volunteers gathered in Huntington Beach. Carrying sleeping bags, suitcases, tech gear and, of course, laptops, they prepared for Forge’s fifth annual marathon marketing weekend. For 54 hours they will brainstorm and collaborate on videos, social media strategies, websites and other ways to help the Institute spread its message.

The Ocean Institute, founded in 1977 as the Orange County Marine Institute, is an ocean education center that offers in-depth marine science, history and outdoor education programs to youths.

“We feel like a 40-yearold start-up,” said Pingaro. “We need to stay relevant and on the cutting edge.”

The volunteers met at the Innocean USA ad agency in Huntington Beach.

Haris Karim, 27, is a veteran of Forge54 and executive with MAB Digital Marketing. In addition to helping other nonprofits with the weekend workshop, Karim says, it is inspiring to see what other marketing professionals are doing. As a result, the event is like a marketing convention-sleepover, but with a purpose.

Looking out at the gathering of mostly younger volunteers, Karim said, “Most of these people don’t have a lot of money to donate, but they do have creativity and skills.”

Last year, Forge 54 worked with the homeless advocacy group the Illumination Foundation and has done projects with the OC Food Bank, Playworks So-Cal and Wells of Life.

Karim said Wells of Life reported a 250 percent increase in donations in the year after it was helped by Forge54.

It costs Forge54 about $10,000 to $20,000 to stage its marathon events, Karim said, but he estimates donations of services at hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of products and tools to clients.

“It’s a huge multiplier,” he said.

And they are products and services that would financially be out of reach for most nonprofits.

The services come in many forms, including updated logos and branding, web design and coding, mobile app creation and promotional videos.

“Forge54 was created to give talented young professionals a way to give back to their community in a significant way without having to donate a lot of money,” said Torrey Tayenaka, the Forge54 founder and executive director. “And with this weekend, we can give in a way that is more valuable than what any of us could do in a single day of volunteering.”

Many of the volunteers are students looking to make connections and find mentors.

They are people like Jennyfer Vargas, 20, a graphic design student at the Art Institute of California in Santa Ana, who is participating in the Forge54 event for the second time. Last year, she contributed some of the artwork used by the Illumination Foundation on its website.

For Vargas, it is an opportunity to make and meet friends, learn new things and do it for a good cause.

“Next year, maybe I’ll try marketing,” she said.

“We are good at what we do, and we have an opportunity to make a huge impact not only for this organization, but for the Orange County community,” Tayenaka said.

More information about Forge54 and the Ocean Institute can be found at Forge54.com, and oceaninstitute.org.

A Different King of Giving

What do you get when you mix talent and a desire to give back?

Here at Forge54 it’s something we like to call SKILLED GIVING.

Since 2013, our organization has presented young professionals in the creative industry with am opportunity to use their video, design, programming and marketing skills to help a charitable cause.

As a team, we have helped nonprofits including the OC Food Bank, Playworks SoCal and Wells of Life. Last year’s selected nonprofit, Illumination Foundation, received over $500,000 worth of donated services.

The time is now.

As we gear up for our 5th consecutive year, Forge54 invites nonprofit organizations across Orange County to submit applications to participate in this annual pro bono marketing weekend. Forge54 recognizes that nonprofit agencies typically have little-to- no funding set aside to carry out marketing efforts and so, the Forge54 team provides assets such as redesigned websites, revised company logos, mobile applications, public relations and social media strategies, original brand videos and more.

Take their word for it.

Paul Leon, CEO of Illumination Foundation said: “Forge54 is about helping our community and giving back with all their hearts. The work that Forge54 volunteers did for us was above all our expectations. The amount of marketing assets and tools they created for us was truly overwhelming and we are just so grateful.

They understood our stakeholders and clients, those we serve and those who help us serve, and went above and beyond to tailor every tool. Forge54 is a community of skilled volunteers that any nonprofit would be lucky to have to help them grow and evolve.

They brought a fresh, new vision and energy to our communication. We praise all the volunteers that worked hard that weekend and we can't thank them enough. The videos and pictures will be in our memories forever and are part of the Illumination Foundation history book. Thank you, Forge54!"

Apply today.

The marketing overhaul that Forge54 provides to one nonprofit annually will take place in October during one impressive 54-hour creative marathon. Forge54’s ideal candidate is a nonprofit organization that is ready to embrace cutting-edge marketing ideas and innovative promotion strategies.

Interested organizations will apply via a short questionnaire that can be found at forge54.com/apply.

After being reviewed by the Forge54 board, a select number of finalists will be named. Those that have applied in the past are welcome to apply again. Applications for Forge54’s 2017 marketing weekend will remain open until May 19.