MelissaNancyIn January of 2004, Melissa DePino and Nancy McDonald sat down to lunch after having met only once at a networking meeting arranged by a mutual friend. Before lunch was even on the table, Melissa pulled out a thick binder and opened it. It was the business plan she’d been dreaming up for years. Nancy, who had been working in the non-profit industry as a creative director for nearly a decade, and who had recently launched her own design firm, was both surprised and intrigued.

“I’d like to start a business,” Melissa started. “And I am wondering if you’d be interested in joining me,” she said, hardly acquainted with Nancy personally, yet sure she’d be the perfect business partner.

Nancy didn’t need much convincing after learning that she and Melissa struggled with similar issues while working as communications department managers-Melissa managing writers and project managers and Nancy managing designers-in leading local non-profits. They both encountered the same pressing needs, again and again. They found that both large and small communications projects continually arose that demanded a high level of strategic and creative expertise, but marketing agencies, design firms, and freelance designers and writers were rarely the right fit. Traditional agencies didn’t understand the unique marketing needs of non-profits or created materials that didn’t reflect an organization’s unique brand. Design firms and freelancers were too specialized often didn’t approach projects strategically, which resulted in the projects never leaving Melissa’s or Nancy’s desks.

And so Leapfrog Group emerged, with Melissa as its voice and Nancy as its vision. After that first meeting, both knew without a doubt that their similar work ethic, complementary strengths, and mutual faith in the missions of nonprofits would make for one inspired venture.