Case Studies

We gave Reach for Home a new brand to clearly reflect its service in the community, and to strengthen its messaging to donors.  

The Challenge

Graybird believes that life-changing nonprofits deserve life-affirming brands. Never has this been more true than for North Sonoma County Services (NSCS).  This small homeless services group was making a larger-than-life impact on the underserved residents who had lost housing or were at risk of doing so. But they fought an uphill battle everyday. The communities in and around Healdsburg nestled in the famed California wine country are perceived as affluent by many and immune to any homeless issues plagued by more populated centers in the rest of the county.  However, according to the 2016 Sonoma County Homeless Census and Survey, nearly 3,000 adults and children live in Sonoma County without stable housing, which is three times higher than the national rate of homelessness.  With little awareness of homeless support options, no emergency shelter in North Sonoma County and an environment with severe weather patterns, the implications were dire for residents when an accident, illness, layoff or act of domestic violence overturns their world.  

The Outreach coordinators intervene on clients’ behalf by providing food, emergency supplies and transportation to medical and social services appointments. The Family Transitional and Permanent Supportive Housing case managers arrange for clean and safe subsidized housing along with transformational life skills to increase the odds that clients will remain in stable living environments.  

Although this small organization managed to run an effective program funded by meager donations, government assistance and private and public partnerships, the reach of its efforts has been hamstrung. Names and identity are critical to connect with donors and the community at large. The North Sonoma County Services label was confusing because sounded like a government agency, which it was not.  The abbreviation—NSCS—was also hard to articulate.  Add these factors to some unclear messaging and suboptimal visibility and you end up with an identity problem.  With the background of having worked on a larger homeless rebranding project, Graybird quickly recognized the distinct challenges and sensitivities around marketing homeless services.

quote-open-iconWe are beyond grateful to the entire Graybird team for the incredible work they put into our rebrand. Their efforts helped lift our organization to a new level of professionalism. They dramatically increased our visibility and created awareness within our community about the work we have done in assisting the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless. Their efforts will help fund many more programs and save countless lives. We are truly blessed to have such a phenomenal organization working with us to elevate our success to another level.

Colleen Carmichael, Reach for Home Executive Director

The Strategy

Establishing trust is one of the most important steps before a homeless client is receptive to accepting help. And we were delighted that the NSCS leadership trusted Graybird to revamp its branding. To best understand how the organization was perceived, we started with research in the form of a stakeholder survey. Graybird conducted phone interviews with board members, staff, donors, volunteers, clients and partners. The results revealed the passionate, dedicated and caring team needed a name change that would clarify its purpose and convey positive outcomes.

Branding a New Identity

The new Reach for Home name, logo and tagline were designed to more effectively highlight the success people can achieve when they engage in action plans and work hard for positive outcomes, especially learning the life skills needed to attain permanent housing and independence.

Name Focuses on positive outcomes vs hopelessness of homelessness.

“Reach” is a call-to-action for people to make positive changes in their lives and put in the effort to return to stable housing.

Logo projects a friendly and approachable vs stiff, cold or bureaucratic organization.

Hands convey supportive, dedicated and caring nature of this small nonprofit.

“Home” clarifies the function of the organization.

Tagline reinforces mission of housing and the comprehensive services for the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless. Rhyme and repetition are memorable.

Asset Production and Launch Event

We developed Reach for Home-branded assets (signs, donation cards, brochures, the business system, stickers, bags, and a redesigned website) and helped plan the May 2017 launch that took place at the Paul Mahder Gallery inHealdsburg.

In partnership with the communications firm, IQ360, Graybird wrote the launch press release, briefed third-party spokespeople from partner nonprofits, the local police and county government. We assisted with event logistics, collected online donations and distributed branded tote bags to promote excitement amongst donors and supporters.

Additionally, with Beth Pielert of Good Film Works, Graybird produced a five-minute Fund-A-Need video for the Reach for Home annual fundraiser. This asset was key in raising over $100,000 — more than twice as much as the previous year.

Fund a Need Video


A model that Karen Kamberg of Karen Kamberg Designs created to depict the four pillars of the Reach for Home program.

We worked with a number of Graybird affiliates during this project that helped ensure the successful launch of the new brand.

Karen Kamberg of Karen Kamberg Design created the new logo, developed a color palette, and a cohesive family of marketing materials including a tri-fold brochure, a six-foot pull-up banner, business cards, letterhead and envelopes, social media images, donor card packages and a style guide.

Mark Stover of StoverPix created an easy-to-update Squarespace website that highlights positive outcomes for Reach for Home clients and conveys the organization’s mission to potential donors in a straightforward manner.  The website also features the Stripe app to conveniently accept online donations.

A photo of a child of a Reach for Home program graduate taken by Beth Pielert.

Beth Pielert of Good Film Works conducted a one-day long photoshoot with staff and clients in Healdsburg to capture inspiring photos that are used on the new website, on social media, in signage and brochures. Her photography emphasizes the positive potential of Reach for Home clients.

Jeff Scott of IQ360 helped develop a PR plan to attract media coverage in Sonoma County and get the message out about the organization’s rebranding.

PCX in San Mateo, CA and Access Uniforms in Burlingame, CA provided speedily-completed printed materials and tote bags, respectively.

quote-open-iconI was truly amazed by the Graybird team and their high quality of work. With the rebrand they helped us every step of the way from the outset, and all was accomplished quickly and seamlessly.  They moved us forward swiftly and secured the final name, logo, URL and the like.  Our launch was a huge success and the feedback from the community and our stakeholders has been extraordinarily positive.

Tom Hartfield, Reach for Home Board Chair


Our project, which took place over just four short months, culminated with a very successful debut of the new name and logo to the Healdsburg community on May 13, 2017. Close to 200 people were in attendance at the Paul Mahder Gallery for the launch event and we secured media coverage of the announcement.

The new Reach for Home identity captures the heart and mission of the organization and provides a platform for the next wave of fundraising. With a new brand and strong messaging, Reach for Home is now well poised to appeal to the community and local businesses to support its homeless services in North Sonoma County.

Jill Grossman

Jill Grossman

Founder and CEO

As founder of Graybird Foundation, Jill is thrilled to give back to the Bay Area community that has given so much to so many. At Graybird, she is responsible for strategic planning, identifying opportunities, and executing fundraising efforts.

Jill has played an active role in several projects — most notably as executive producer of the documentary Surviving Skokie and as a task force member of the LifeMoves (formerly InnVisionShelterNetwork) rebranding initiative.

Even before founding Graybird, Jill was involved in several nonprofit marketing projects including the acquisition of two digital mammography systems at the San Mateo County Hospital and the 25th Anniversary fundraising video for ShelterNetwork. As a member of the Crystal Springs Uplands School board of trustees, Jill led the creation of Crystal’s mission statement, tagline and the 2009-2014 strategic plan as well as co-led the marketing/capital campaign efforts for the institution’s new Middle School. Her high technology communications experience includes executive roles at Silicon Graphics, Macromedia and Catapult Partners.

Jill has a BA in History with a minor in Business Administration from UCLA. Apart from Graybird, Jill enjoys hiking, skiing, traveling, movies and spending time with her three fabulous children and extended family. Oh, and she also loves the Golden State Warriors.

See Jill’s full professional background on LinkedIn.

You would never guess

I wear a size 10 shoe

I can’t function without

Music on a hike

Celebrity who would play me in a movie

Sandra Bullock (I wish!)

A nerdy thing I love to do

Try to figure out who will win the Oscar in every category every year

My favorite vacation spot is

Sun Valley, Idaho

As a kid I was always in trouble for

Losing things

Favorite part of my job is

Working with my friends

Renee Spooner

Renee Spooner

Chief Marketing Officer

The Graybird Foundation clients inspire Renée to dig deep and make bold marketing moves on their behalf.  After a successful Silicon Valley career in high-tech marketing, she now combines her skills in branding, communications and project management with her passion to mentor nonprofit professionals. Clients on the Graybird roster include Berkeley Symphony, Crystal Springs Upland School, Foundation for a College Education, Gatepath, Golden State Youth Orchestra, LifeMoves, Reach for Home, and Surviving Skokie.

As Chief Marketing Office at Graybird Foundation, Renée is responsible for guiding client marketing strategy, bringing together skilled teams, and mentoring clients as they take ownership of their new brands.  She draws from a background in public relations, customer marketing and product launches, with previous management roles at Silicon Graphics, BEA/Oracle and VMware, and consulting with numerous startups.  Renée’s evolution into the nonprofit sector is her way of giving back.

The travel adventure on my bucket list is

Sailing the South Pacific

Celebrity who would play me in a movie

Joan Cusack

A nerdy thing I love to do

Is recite Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I [ … ] everyday

Pray for my children and my sanity

As a kid I was always in trouble for

Talking too much in class

My favorite restaurant is

Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay

Favorite part of my job

Mentoring up-and-coming marketers

Helen Boyer

Helen Boyer

Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer of Graybird Foundation, Helen leads strategic planning, finance, operations and our grant process. She collaborates with project teams, guides client engagements and develops creative solutions that drive the foundation’s programs and goals.

Helen brings two decades of business management and operations experience to Graybird, spanning the corporate, non-profit, public and private sectors. Having lived internationally and travelled to more than 25 countries, she has a diverse professional background ranging from leadership roles in business development, product planning, logistics and process management to assisting underserved children in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Vietnam. Helen’s volunteer service deeply informs her life practice. She is honored to help individuals and businesses in her local community, in addition to her work at Graybird.

Helen graduated from UC Davis, with a BS in Textile Science. When she isn’t at Graybird Foundation you’ll find her riding her bike to the beach, listening to jazz at her favorite café, or up-cycling a new find. And, plagued with a serious case of wanderlust, she is always planning the next stamp for her passport. See Helen’s full professional background on LinkedIn.

You would never guess

I know the words to nearly every song in the musical “Funny Girl”

I can’t function without

My sisters

The travel adventure on my bucket list is

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

A nerdy thing I love to do

File my greeting cards by category

Favorite Podcast/Movie/Book/Play/Artist

Baraka, Shantaram, Into the Woods, Guayasamin

I [ … ] everyday

Chat during my commute with one of my best friends (for 38 years)

As a kid I was always in trouble for

Talking too much, especially to strangers

Favorite part of my job

Working with people who are guided by their hearts

Shelley Willig

Shelley Willig

Head of Education Practice

Shelley is obsessed with education; she believes that increasing the percentage of young people earning college degrees is a solution to many of the major issues plaguing our country today. Combining her 20 years in high-tech marketing with her role as Head of Education Practice at Graybird, Shelley is elated to lead projects for community based organizations working hard to get more students to and through college.

Since 2006, Shelley has been deeply involved in education nonprofits. She manages the volunteer college advising program at Foundation for a College Education where she also works directly with students. Shelley serves on the board of Mid-Peninsula High School, a CAIS school in Menlo Park. Prior to joining Graybird Foundation, Shelley served eight years as the Director of Admission at Trinity School, an independent elementary institution.

Shelley holds a BA in Communications from CSU Fullerton, and a certificate in College Admissions Counseling from UC Berkeley. When she is not touring college campuses, Shelley enjoys hiking, cooking, and dinners on the patio with her husband and four sons.

I can’t function without

The goofiness of my kids and husband

The travel adventure on my bucket list is

Hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro

I’ve always wanted to be


My hidden talent is

Cooking a pretty good meal in anybody’s kitchen with whatever I can find in the fridge and pantry

A nerdy thing I love to do

Read statistics about college admissions

Favorite Podcast/Movie/Book/Play/Artist

Stand By Me/Operating Instructions/Driving Miss Daisy/Elton John

As a kid I 

was never in trouble because I never got caught!

My favorite spot in the Bay Area is

Wunderlich Park Trails

Favorite part of my job

Working with people I admire

Reach for Home — Fund a Need Video