Designers – Help Your Non-Profits
If not us, who?
On Tuesday, June 30, 2009, President Obama called our attention in a press conference to the importance of the work of non-profit organizations. The item from his remarks that spoke the loudest to me was the following:
So if anyone out there is waiting for government to solve all their problems, they’re going to be disappointed. Because ultimately, the best solutions don’t come from the top-down, not from Washington; they come from the bottom-up in each and everyone one of our communities.
This sounds like a clear call to me. Regardless of your party affiliation, view on the war, policy, etc, one thing is hard to debate – we need non profits to thrive. Throughout our varied communities, there exists in these organizations a strong spirit of tenacity and the drive to face severe adversity to make our surroundings better, safer and equal.
If not now, when?
In a previous post, I highlighted an interview by AIGA Philadelphia, who spoke with Pentagram’s Michael Bierut about our power as designers. There is no denying his point, that in a culture now dominated by corporations and organizations who yield so much influence over the products we use, our lifestyles and the ways in which we receive our information, design has been “democratized.” We are surrounded by Apples, Targets, Wal Marts, Best Buys and so many other companies who literally market lifestyle as opposed to product. Our responsibility as designers to care for the products, messages and communication vehicles we help our clients use has never been more important than it is today.
So what can we do? (let’s be led by example)
Design can indeed be a powerful tool for change if put in the right hands. I took a few minutes to round up some examples from those who take this work seriously.
Landesberg Design was founded in 1982 and is based here in Pittsburgh with a branch office in NYC. Established and overseen by Rick Landesberg, his firm has become an institution locally, with a long history of work for a range of clients – from fortune 500 to cultural institutions to foundations. Notably, his work for non-profit organizations such as the Sprout Fund, Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti stands out for their impact both locally and globally.
Catapult is a multi-disciplinary non-profit design consultancy dedicated to providing engineering, implementation support and product solutions that change lives in areas of the world that lack infrastructure to provide for people’s basic needs. They work to provide clean water where there is none, they help a health clinic in Rwanda power itself with solar power, you get the picture.
Public Design Center (PDC)
The PDC is a graphic design resource center. At the core of their mission is empowering those in the most economically disadvantaged locations to communicate more effectively. Through workshop-style one hour clinics and drop-in consulting engagements, they help people make the most of their resources.