Giving Back with Design

The Giving Back with Design webinar really struck a chord. But that doesn’t surprise me.

At the end of each PaperSpecs Gallery Inspiration video, I repeat the sentiment, “Go out and make this world a better place through great design and outstanding paper choices.”

Our special webinar speaker, Michael Osborne, showed us just how that’s done. In the case of Joey’s Corner, through pro bono design work.

From the attendance and the reaction we had to this event, the subject of giving back with design has been on your minds as well. Our special thanks go out to Sappi for sponsoring the webinar. Here are Michael’s answers to your questions about giving back with design.

With the pro bono work, do you set up boundaries when it comes to the number of concepts and revisions? And who has the final say on the final product?
We treat Joey’s Corner clients, projects and the design process exactly the same way we do at Michael Osborne Design. Up front there is always an agreement on the number of concepts and revisions that will be presented.

The final approved design direction is the result of a very typical design process. There is no reason for these issues to be different just because it is a nonprofit client.

How can a designer get started in narrowing down whom to help? I found it so overwhelming with the amount of nonprofit organizations out there that deserved to be helped.
It’s GREAT that you want to make a contribution with your design skills! I’d advise you to pick an organization that is meaningful to you in some way, i.e. maybe a grandparent has cancer or Alzheimer’s, or maybe you love kids and want to help children at risk, etc. As you say, there are thousands of nonprofits out there, so you need to narrow it down. Just pick with your heart.

How many design concepts do you provide to your nonprofit clients?
We treat Joey’s Corner clients, projects and the design process exactly the same way we do at Michael Osborne Design. Up front there is always an agreement on the number of concepts and revisions that will be presented.

The final approved design direction is the result of a very typical design process. There is no reason for these issues to be different just because it is a nonprofit client.

Do you let your pro bono client know how much the whole project costs at the end by submitting an invoice with zero balance?
No, any agreement has to be put down on paper before the project begins. We do receive some funds from clients that do have a small budget for design, or we may receive a donation from one of their board members.

If we do the project completely pro bono (free), it is accounted for as a donation of goods and services to that organization, on their books as well as ours.

Has MOD ever needed to pitch in to Joey’s Corner to help out from time to time?
Yes, many times MOD has pitched in. Actually, one of MOD’s designers is paid a portion of her salary by Joey’s Corner, and she works the appropriate amount of time on the projects.

Can I (should I?) charge for any of the work?
It depends on the organization and whether or not they have even a small budget. It can also depend on your commitment to the cause and the work. Before I started Joey’s Corner, which is an official 501c3, I did absolutely free design work for dozens and dozens of organizations.

In general, what do you think is the overriding value that designers provide to nonprofits?
Mostly it’s all about fundraising. Consistent branding through identity, print materials, capital campaigns, websites, invitations to fundraising events, etc. – all contribute to the power of an organization’s voice, professional perception and credibility both internally and to donors and potential donors. The value and impact a graphic designer can make in this regard is felt in a very profound way.

How did the Hamlin School get chosen? Aren’t they for profit?
Hamlin School received its 501c3 nonprofit status in June of 1957.

How has the 501c3 helped your regular practice in terms of clients?
The 501c3 status has allowed us to do our own fundraising without the burden of taxes, which in turn allows us to have dedicated staff working full time for these wonderful organizations.

To listen …

If you missed “Giving Back with Design,” it’s not too late! Just click here to have a listen to the full webinar. Special thanks to Sappi Fine Paper North America for this terrific event.

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