Providing pro-bono marketing services for non-profits in Chicago

What is CMI?

The Medill Cause Marketing Initiative (CMI) is a student-run committee that provides pro-bono marketing services for non-profit organizations in the Chicago area. Since 2008, CMI has been providing strategic, creative and effective marketing communications solutions to help NPOs further their community reach and deepen their social impact. CMI consists of graduate students in the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Full-Time program at Northwestern University Medill School. Student teams develop and deliver innovative solutions by applying skills and insights learned in the classroom to solve real-world business objectives.

What does CMI do?

CMI undertakes 2-3 month-long projects with specific marketing communications objectives outlined by the client. CMI provides NPOs with work including (but not limited to):

  • Brand strategy and visual branding
  • Stakeholder analysis and communications insights
  • Digital and social marketing
  • Interactive marketing initiatives
  • Public and media relations
  • Campaign measurement and data insights
  • Content strategy and media planning

What is Medill’s IMC program?

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is a STEM-designated program at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. An educational leader since 1921, Medill offers programs that combine enduring skills and values with new techniques and knowledge that are essential to thrive in today’s digital world. IMC uses art (creativity) and science (qualitative and quantitative data) to understand consumers and build strong brands.

Recent Projects

In 2020, CMI provided the Big Shoulders Fund with a strategic framework and actionable tactics for brand positioning and messaging. Our designated consultants then dove into a digital content strategy for one Fund partner – St. Gall’s School – and mapped specific content suggestions for web, email and social across each stage of the consumer journey.

“They have been so thoughtful and considerate in the work they have done for this project…they took on [the] challenge and have been able to provide us with a working document that we can easily share with other schools.”

– Elizabeth Tracy, Assistant Director of School
   Marketing and Operations

CMI created a brand book for CWC and provided various branded templates for future events and announcements. Our consultants also reworked their homepage, which went live in 2020.

“In spite of the disruption due to the pandemic, our Northwestern Medill team found a way to assist the Center with several marketing initiatives. We always appreciate the opportunity to work with committed volunteers and appreciate the work they put in to the project, and we value the opportunity to build awareness about the Center’s mission. We would welcome the opportunity to participate with a team again next year.”

– Savina Chacheva, Program Manager

CMI helped Danny Did Foundation develop a consistent brand image by auditing their social media pages and ultimately providing a tailored yet integrated social strategy across four different platforms. We helped DDF focus on relationship building through storytelling.

CMI reworked and integrated Chicago Canine Rescue’s visual brand, including logos, colors, patterns and hero images across their web pages and social channels. This designated CMI team also synthesized CCR’s donation and search data from Google Ads, and analyzed their website and social engagement.

Our team conducted research and a competitive stakeholder analysis for Coming Up Rosies. We also provided current social media performance reports and created a content strategy and content calendar template to help the organization tangibly improve their engagement.

“It was such a pleasure to work with the team…[they] developed ideas to take our social media presence to the next level. Their ideas were very creative, useful and feasible, and we cannot wait to implement them!”

– Erin Dowdle, Social Media and Communications Director

CMI helped strengthen Canine Therapy Corps’ online presence by creating page, link, image, and content descriptions to appear on SERPs, and utilized  Google Analytics to track and analyze traffic sources to their webpage. We also engineered detailed media plans for CTC’s owned and earned channels, and outlined a SEM plan using Google AdWords.

Current Clients

Executive Board

Headshot of Mariah Pongor.
Mariah Pongor
Program Director
Headshot of Jiayin Feng.
Jiayin Feng
Project Management Director
Headshot of Ceren Ungan.
Ceren Ungan
Client Partnerships Director
Headshot of Mariah Pongor.
Mariah Pongor
Program Director
Headshot of Jiayin Feng.
Jiayin Feng
Project Management Director
Headshot of Ceren Ungan.
Ceren Ungan
Client Partnerships Director
Headshot of Claire Chen.
Claire Chen
Online Assets Director
Headshot of Rachel Julius.
Rachel Julius
Internal Communications Director
Headshot of Karen Liu.
Karen Liu
External Communications Director
Headshot of Julio Martin.
Julio Martin
Event Planning Director

Work With Us

We want to help your organization further its community reach and deepen its social impact. 

If you are interested in working with us and reside in the greater Chicago area, please fill out the request for proposal form below. Your project objectives and deliverables should focus on a marketing need that furthers your organization’s mission and should be accomplishable within 10-12 weeks. Please see the “What does CMI do?” section above for a list of skills that reflect the core competencies of our student teams. Each year, our student teams kick off the projects in March; however, please feel free to submit this form at any point during the calendar year and we will reach out to you to secure your spot in the lineup of CMI clients.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at cmi@u.northwestern.edu.

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