As part of AIGA's Design Week, I had the opportunity to sit on a panel of designers and nonprofit directors to discuss designing for good during an event luncheon. Our topics covered everything from design by committee, payment for services, crowdsourcing contests, creative freedom and, maybe most importantly, making a difference.
Designers have the unique ability to approach projects from a 50,000-foot view right down to the kerning on a business card. We need to understand both our clients' long-term goals and tactical initiatives.
In many ways, nonprofits operate the same way. Long-term goals of some of the nonprofits I've worked with include educating and enriching neighborhoods, transforming populations, developing workforces, saving lives, curing cancer and rescuing people from poverty. Amazing initiatives. But, these initiatives can't be accomplished without the tactical efforts of a devoted (and probably overworked) staff, programs, donors, communities, participants and (dot, dot, dot) you.
As a designer, some of the most important work we can do is cause-related nonprofit work. It's rewarding, exciting and, to be honest, every nonprofit client Designsensory has partnered with has contributed award-winning work to our portfolio.
So, get started. Find an organization you're passionate about and see firsthand what they're doing. Do your research by understanding their programs, participating in an event and meeting the people they're helping. When you start to see a mission through an individual face and name, you'll be motivated and inspired to help translate their story through design.
Arron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. spoke earlier in the week during AIGA's Design Week festivities and I couldn't phrase what he said any better: "Say yes." Really, it's that simple. Use your skills and give back a little. You'll be proud of the work and the difference you make.