Design can incite change and help make a positive difference for non-profit organizations. Graphic designers may want to lend their skill to help aid in social, cultural or environmental good, but this pro bono work presents various challenges. Understanding these challenges, as well as the benefits of pro bono work can help both the designer and non-profit enjoy a positive experience. The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) recently created a guideline to assist designers when choosing to work with non-profit organizations on a pro bono bases.
Understanding the Scope of Work
The Pro Bono Handbook helps designers understand what constitutes pro bono work and the differences between a non-profit, charity and grass roots organization. Helpful tips break down how to choose a non-profit organization to partner with along with what to expect when working with such organizations.
Benefits to Pro Bono Work
Pro bono graphic design work provides a host of benefits and can be both professionally and personally rewarding.
- Helping a non-profit or charitable organization enacts good in the world and makes it possible for your partner organization to reach their goals and objectives.
- Working with like minded and passionate individuals can be refreshing and inspiring.
- From board members to volunteers you will meet a variety of people and expand your network in the process.
- Pro bono work expands your portfolio. The experience may also create an opportunity to explore your creativity and diversify your portfolio.
- Non-profit organizations typically are quick to give credit where it is due, so you will likely earn recognition for your work. This recognition can help increase awareness of your business
Challenges to Pro Bono Work
Working with a non-profit also poses several unique challenges. Understanding these issues enables you to prepare and strategize potential solutions.
- Members of non-profit organizations may not understand the value of design work, so it may fall to you, as a designer, to educate the client.
- Non-profit organizations are often governed by a board, which can sometimes slow down the decision making process. Understanding how this system works sets expectations and enables you to do your work within the confines of the organization.
- Non-profits typically have limited resources, so as a designer you may need to find creative solutions to accommodate a modest budget.
Making Informed Decisions
The Pro Bono handbook is a useful tool to help designers understand the scope of working with a non-profit. Knowing what to expect, along with what can be gained and potential pitfalls can help make the experience productive and enjoyable for both the designer and the non-profit. Review the RGD’s Pro Bono Handbook to learn more before taking on a pro bono job.