Grantmakers for Effective Organizations


Situation / Challenge

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) is a diverse community of 5,000 grantmakers working to identify and share smarter, more effective grant making practices. Understanding that grant makers are successful only to the extent that their grantees achieve meaningful results, GEO promotes strategies and practices that contribute to grantee success. As a part of GEO’s work, the organization conducts industry-leading research on grant making practice and fosters learning initiatives targeting specific aspects of the process. 

GEO approached Sage after the start of a major rebranding effort, with the need to define the new brand guidelines and create collateral to introduce the new visual brand and brand voice. 

With a renewed focus on community — the members central to GEO — the new brand required use of an inclusive tone, inviting language, vibrant color and a focus on photography that presented great opportunity — but also some discomfort Me— for shifting away from GEO’s comfort zone.
Our Strategic Approach

Sage began by reviewing research and collateral that defined GEO’s identity to date — including GEO member surveys and testimonials, presentations, webinars, field scans and market research — to understand what composes GEO’s core identity and how that core identity could best be realized under the new brand. With this understanding, Sage began to establish the new brand guidelines and wrote and designed the first new creative materials needed for the launch of the new brand, including a membership brochure, conference booth exhibiting materials, photo library, PowerPoint template, business cards and stationery. Sage paid careful attention to how each piece complemented the others to achieve GEO’s goals — portraying a unified, compelling brand that’s attractive and clear to ultimately sell to prospective members. 

At each step of the creative process, Sage worked closely with GEO to explain the rationale behind our content and design choices in order to gain comfort and buy-in among GEO leaders. In one example, we led a fun photo exercise with GEO staff to help teach them how to employ photography to tell the GEO story. We worked as an extension of the GEO team, intentionally designing a sophisticated but user-friendly PowerPoint template and the foundation for a photo library that GEO staff can then expand and tailor to their needs.


We’re glad to help to build GEO’s internal capacity, and proud that the brand training we led at GEO was praised by the client as “easily one of the most creative and effective workshops we’ve ever had a consultant organize.” The first executions of the new brand have been received with great enthusiasm, and have led to ongoing work designing a new look for GEO’s publications.

V-Brand, M-ArtsJim McIntyre