Our Chicago Innovation Awards Nomination

We are grateful and inspired to announce that our team has been nominated for the 2014 Chicago Innovation Awards for our video work for Chicago nonprofits.

Chicago Innovation Awards 2014

Specifically, we were nominated for this video we scripted, shot and produced for Circle Urban Ministries:


And for this video series we scripted, shot and produced for Esperanza Community Services:

Thank you Chicago for this great opportunity!  Looking forward to serving this city even more in the years to come.

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Why Passion Matters

Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in Qunu this afternoon, ending a journey that transformed South Africa.  This passionate leader left a mark around the world.  As a tribute we wanted to share this well-known quote of his, showcasing the importance of passion.  Without passion there is no change or transformation; what hope can there be without passion?

Nelson Mandela Quote

In keeping with tradition, Mandela was laid to rest in the afternoon, when the sun is at its highest.

May your light shine on.


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The Perfect Gift? Something That Makes The World Better

We’re big fans of Kid President, and had to post this relevant holiday message about “The Perfect Gift.”  What is the perfect holiday gift?  We’ll give you a hint: it’s not stuff.  Rather, it’s an act of love; something which makes the world a better place.

Having the privilege to work with local and global nonprofits and churches, we’ve seen just how much some people care.  It’s a beautiful thing to behold!  Perhaps this holiday season you and your loved ones consider giving a gift to World Vision, IJM, or one of countless other deserving orgs.  These people love others year-round; what better way to spend your money than to help their work go further?


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Brilliant Holiday Marketing: WestJet

This is brilliant marketing at its finest…plus it’s just beautiful to watch.  We huddled around to see the magic of “Santa” unfold, while marveling at the incredible brand recognition this airline is getting online from this video.  It is viral across social media today, with over a million views in less than 24 hours.

Creative – and kind!

See Luminate’s entire online Video Library here.

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Our Trip Around the World

We work with ministries and nonprofits, big and small.  Sometimes we have the opportunity to travel to different parts of the globe to help organizations first hand through high-quality photography, video footage, and understanding the mission to new depths.  This inevitably helps us package the message to audiences when we return back to the States, with renewed motivation and understanding.

One such experience took us into the less-traveled roads and countryside of India.  In the mountains of Manipur (between Bangladesh and China) there is a nonprofit called Hope for the Children which serves orphans.  HFC believes it’s their mandate to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves.  Struck by their compassion and leadership, we traveled around the world alongside their Executive Director to experience this organization on-the-ground, first hand, and were forever changed.

From the slums of Delhi (one slum had over 10,000 people living in it!) to the mountains of Manipur (in the town of Churchandpur) we were personally touched by the beauty of the Indian people and their culture.


Tent City

We set out to impact this organization, which we did through several campaigns and donor events, but we were the ones truly impacted. Above all, what left the most lasting change on us was the courage and optimism the orphans carried with them…the hope and light they bring to the world.

For more on Luminate Marketing’s Global work, visit our portfolio from Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Here are the Services we offer Global Ministries.

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5 Best Practices: Raising Money for Nonprofits

As our team transitions out of “Benefit Season” and into the Holiday Season, we’re reflecting on what we’ve learned in the past several months.  In the past 6 weeks alone, Luminate Marketing helped launch 3 nonprofit fundraising events.  This included investing considerable time and creative energy into strategizing and leading these very different nonprofits up to, and through their Annual Benefit events.  The hands-on, concentrated focus on generating exposure online and raising funds for worthy nonprofits always teaches us more than reading articles or attending best practice seminars.  We’ve seen first-hand what works, what people love, and what they don’t.  Here are our observations, for your benefit (pun intended)…

1.  Set a Meaningful Target Goal

Setting a target financial goal for the night/event helps donors gauge the need. They aren’t going to be as inspired to give as much when the goal is too high or too low.  That’s why it’s important for a leadership team to develop a meaningful set of reasons for the target goal, considering factors such as:

  • Operating Costs for the Upcoming Fiscal Year
  • Amount Needed for New Project or Capital Campaign
  • Liability Insurance or Protection for Unforeseeable Circumstances
  • Financials tied to Specific Salaries, Initiatives, and Expenses (trackable/explainable)

Another point to mention here is that the target goal should directly support the vision communicated for the organization during the night/event.  For example, if the Executive Director introduces a new Capital Campaign project, you can be sure guests will be wondering the following (and probably more) questions:

  • What amount of money raised tonight is going to the Annual Operating Budget as opposed to a Capital Campaign?
  • Can I/we give to one initiative specifically?  To a specific program or ministry element of the organization?
  • How will my gift make an impact?  Literally, what will my financial gift be used for?
  • Why do I need to give financially to address this particular issue?  What will happen if this organization is not in existence?

It’s your responsibility as a leadership team/keynote/Director to explain all of the above.  People want and deserve to know why they should give, and why your organization is the one to give to, which leads us to our next piece of advice.

2. Explain Why People Should Give

Fundraising Ballroom

There are many good causes.  And in today’s economic climate, every charity dollar is more precious–and rare–than before.  Showing pictures of hungry children is no longer enough; not even statistics might be enough.  Today’s donors and nonprofit investors want to know their money is being well-spent.  They not only want to know you’re running your organization like a business, but like a highly-focused business with a solid ministry model.

It’s imperative that in addition to the emotional-pull, which we will address shortly, you also convey the rationale behind your organization, and what it sets out (and is strategically designed) to address.

1.  Clearly illustrate that there’s a need for the work you do (state the Need)
2.  Present the solution (your approach, programs, structure)
3.  Demonstrate why your organization is the one to address the need with the solution (ministry credibility)
4.  Communicate what will happen if this important work isn’t funded/supported (create a sense of urgency)
5.  Breakdown how their gift will make a difference, and as specifically as possible where/when it will generate impact

Most ministries and nonprofits we encounter attempt to address only a couple of these points.  And trust us, if the members of your audience are serious-minded donors, they will (and should) be thinking about them all.

3. Invite People Who Will Actually Contribute

Spend your networking hours and personal invitations in a way that will generate a return.  You can love your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors, without inviting them to a fundraising event.  The purpose of a nonprofit benefit is to raise money, so you should only invite people who will contribute to accomplishing this goal.  Of course there is something to be said for raising exposure for an organization, but a fundraising event is not the place to do this.  That should be happening throughout the year with targeted online keywords, social media listening, strategic networking, etc.

Sunk costs for large benefits and galas can be considerable; the meal alone usually runs $50-$100, so inviting guests to your table that won’t at least cover their meal is not doing your cause any good.  There may be pressure to fill tables and get people in the room…but it’s more important that they’re the right people, who come prepared to give, than the amount of friends you can rope together.  If you are really serious about raising money, you can even take the event off of mainstream channels such as your website and social media, and keep it invite-only for high net worth individuals.

How do you tell people they are expected to give without sounding pushy or tacky?  There are several ways.  First, communicate clearly and consistently from the get-go.  This applies both to online communications and in-person invitations (make this clear to Table Hosts).  Language such as “Please come prepared to give” or “The purpose of the night is to raise $__ for __” is totally acceptable.  If you’ll be having a silent or live auction, a more subtle way of communicating the base level of giving is something along the lines of “You will be provided with the opportunity to participate in a live auction; giving levels start at $250.”

4. Don’t Waste Your Money

People don’t attend nonprofit fundraising events expecting (or even wanting) a lazar light show.  We’ve seen nonprofits spend considerable amounts of money for creative execution of events, lots of videos and expensive multimedia presentations, and lighting effects – only to be disappointed.  Unlike a concert or performance where an audience is expecting to be impressed by ‘theatrics,’ guests of a nonprofit benefit want to be moved.  They want to be touched with compassion, and filled with hope.  You can save a lot of money, and raise a lot of money, by cutting out an over-produced show.  Go straight to the heart.

How do you do this?  Focus on the clients you serve.  There is a real, tangible need they have, or your organization wouldn’t even exist.  Take your guests along the rewarding journey that you and your staff experience daily: life transformation for your clients.  People love to see the impact an organization can make on the lives of those it serves.  That’s the heart behind why you do what you do!  So, avoid overdoing the production or being over-emotional, but don’t be afraid to pull on the audience’s heart strings a little bit.  That’s what they want and why they’re there.

5. Consider the Psychology of Giving Levels

What will compel giving?  That’s the million-dollar question.  Marketing and fundraising have roots in many different philosophies, but the root all leads back to one thing: psychology.  People instinctively respond more or less favorably to different words, phrases, and processes.  Keeping this in mind will remind you who your guests are; not just prospective donors, but people.

Different giving strategies are of course more/less effective for different audiences and ministries.  There are many strategies you can take, and we’ve seen multiple approaches prove successful.  For example, if your nonprofit is very program-focused, consider raising money by program area.  People will naturally be more drawn to and passionate about different topics and causes.  If your programs address different goals or demographics, call that out and engage people at different points of the night in specific giving areas/levels.

When the night begins, will you be more likely to give $1,000 or $10,000?  For some people it doesn’t make a difference because they’ve already come to the event with a specific giving amount in mind.  They may even have already written the check.  But for other guests, which we’ve found to be the majority, the order of giving levels you present is crucial.  Rather than starting small ($50, $100, $200) and working your way up to $20,000, start at $20,000.  This may seem counter-intuitive.  The reasoning is this: when people see others give in large amounts they are more likely to feel the ministry deserves large gifts, and “group think” sets in for them to consider giving more.

Smart tip: for the first several high-amount giving levels in the night, secure the gifts from donors in advance.  Call them and ask if they are willing to give at that amount; that way when the amount is called out by the auctioneer there are more than crickets in the room.  And the excitement generated in the room from these large gifts will change the vibe and warm people up to a like-minded generous spirit.

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There is no golden standard or universal formula for raising money.  If there was, everyone would be doing it.  However, by avoiding common pitfalls and following a few best practices you’ll have higher probability for a successful event, and reaching/surpassing financial and ministry goals.


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Why WordPress?

There are many options when it comes to Web Design Platforms these days, but WordPress is still our favorite.  It comes with an easy-to-use, built-in CMS (content management system), which is the most commonly used CMS in the World right now.  With over 11 million users, WordPress is clearly getting something right!  And we love providing their CMS to our nonprofit clients, because it’s 100% free to them.  This allows us to offer high-quality at a low-price, which is the driving force behind how we like to work.  Here’s a fun little infographic one of our web developers came across today and wanted to share ~

Why WordPress

For more information on Web Design, visit our Web Design Info page or Portfolio.

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Fall 2013 Entrepreneurship Feature

We were proud to be featured in the 2013 ‘Spotlight’ by Venture Connects, one of the largest entrepreneurial networks in Chicago.  Our Founder was met with a series of interview questions and spoke on behalf of our team and mission.  Here are a few of the questions /answers, but for more on our inspiring feature, view the full article here.

lynne kurdziel

An Introduction by Venture Connect.

Venture Connects spotlight series features notable entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their industries. We are proud to highlight Lynne Kurdziel for her accomplishments and give insight to her business endeavors. Lynne is the CEO and founder of Luminate Marketing, headquartered in Chicago. Founded with the passion to help businesses locally and internationally, Luminate Marketing provides marketing solutions to assist nonprofits, ministries and churches. Her company’s mission is to create measurable solutions through innovative strategies mapped to clients’ business goals. Luminate Marketing consistently creates a positive impact on its wide-ranging clientele, from the entrepreneur with a dream, to the global ministry reaching millions.

What has been the biggest milestone for your company thus far?

Numerous testimonials from happy clients.

What is your business philosophy?

Be passionate about what you do, create great work, and carry yourself with ethics and compassion.

Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Don’t let fear hold you back from chasing that dream; you have the idea for a reason.  Life was not meant to be lived on the sidelines!  Jump into the game and don’t wait for an invitation, it may never come.

Visit the Venture Connects site to view the full feature.

Want more?  View our recent feature by well-renowned author and speaker, Jeff Goins; a podcast and interview on his book entitled, “Wrecked.”

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There’s No Place Like Chrome

CHROME WINS in our “Battle of the Browsers: 2013″


All things considered, what’s the best browser out there that you should be using as your default search and web tool?

Chrome boasts top-notch speed, secure browsing and sync capabilities that allow you to access your customized browser from any device.  It is built for speed, and its secure, intuitive operation makes it the best internet browser hands down in our opinion.

Google Chrome will say its best attributes are the following:

1.  Speed

2.  Simplicity

3.  Security

In addition to those key selling points there are special Privacy features, Customization options, and multi-app Sign-ins.

We did a little digging to determine if we were the only ones obsessed with Chrome.  It wasn’t long before a good article by TechNorms confirmed the lesser known key attributes that our team also celebrates.  We’ve added our perspective below:

Battle of the Browsers

Clean, Simple User Interface.

One of the biggest complaints about Internet Explorer back when it was one of the only browsers available was how clunky it made users feel while using it.  After Firefox’s release, many flocked there because of how they revamped what a browser should look and feel like.  Then, Chrome hit the web and users were thrilled with its simple, clean user interface.

Searching From the Address Bar.

Typing in Google.com in your address bar, waiting for it to load and then typing what you want to look for online is annoying for those of us familiar with using Chrome.  Why even have a search bar when you can use the address bar for both direct URL links and search queries?  Simply type in what you want to look for and you’re off-and-running.  Use Google Chrome for a week and then switch back to Safari.  The inability to search from the address bar in Safari might be one of the most annoying differences after you’ve had the ease of Chrome.

Large Library of Extensions and Add-ons.

Chrome has one of the largest libraries of extensions, add-ons and built-in applications on the planet.  These extensions not only enhance the browser’s ability to do what you want it to do, but it helps you do your job even better.  We use web design applications and extensions that are free and integrate directly with Chrome.  Big fans.  While Firefox and Internet Explorer boast impressive extensions as well, they can’t even come close to the amount of encouragement Google gives to developers to change the way Chrome works.  Google themselves release official Chrome extensions, add-ons and more to make the browser more functional for its users, and Google has let’s say, well…influence.

Chrome’s Task Manager.

Have you ever clicked “Shift + ESC” in Google Chrome?  Give it a try.  Chrome’s built-in Task Manager should pop-up in the middle of your screen and give you a list of all the tabs opened; along with the memory, CPU, Network and FPS resources it is using.  If a particular tab is giving you issue, you can close it by clicking “End Process.”  No other browser provides a Task Manager like this and no other browser is intuitive enough regarding the user experience that it would even think of such a thing.  Bonus: if you right-click on any task, you will be given options as to what other statistics you can display to see what resources it is using while open.  Awesome.

Incognito Mode.

The most under-known, under-used feature of Google Chrome is the amazing Incognito Mode.  If you haven’t used this yet, you’re missing out.  Incognito Mode allows you to surf the web without worrying about browsing history, download history or cookies.  These are all deleted when you close the browser.   Why does this matter?  Any changes you make to settings or bookmarks are saved for you, which allows you to remember less.  It also means you don’t have to worry about other users seeing what cool research you’re downloading and no cookies are being stored.

In order to get started with Incognito Mode in Chrome, you can either click on the “Wrench Icon”and click “New Incognito Mode.”  The keyboard shortcut for incognito mode is “Ctrl+Shift+N”.
Time to stop the search and click those heels together…there’s no place like Chrome.

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Using Your Skills to Make a Difference

We are all blessed with skills, relationships, and education (formally, or what we’ve learned throughout life).  What will you do with these blessings?  Who will they benefit?

The American capitalistic culture of “every man for himself” has left millions feeling empty, and wondering how to find a life of meaning.  How do you take your ordinary talents and use them for extraordinary purposes? Is it possible to turn a normal life into an amazing story?

Learn how to use your skills to make a difference through this Story and Podcast from our Founder!














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