GOOD

A Designer's Approach to Philanthropy

Take out some paper and write down how you’d rate yourself as a philanthropist. Then write down the names of five people you know that you’d assign an equal or greater rating. On this scale, a one would be for occasional organization event attendees; five would be for regular volunteers of a few nonprofits, and 10 would be for philanthropists who have weaved do-gooding into their daily lives—maybe even into their careers.


I've had some great one-on-one conversations with the five I rank as 10. We’ve talked about why we’re as involved as we are and our motivations. A few of them acknowledged my reasoning with "you're rare." Only one of my top five is a designer by practice.

I invest much of my free time and energy into AIGA DFW, GOOD Local, other nonprofit organizations in Dallas, and mentoring programs, because it’s the only way I know to be. I love and feel the inherent need to be involved. I am an artist and writer, and inspiration fuels me. My motto is, “you have to be involved to be inspired.”

In high school, service was not only inspiration, but my ticket to scholarships. After college, it led to community, networking, mentors, and award-winning pro-bono projects. A lot of designers get involved for the same reasons, but most cease involvement when things have paid off (like cementing a great job), and they no longer see the value of trading in their free time. As the creative director of a well-established creative agency, and with a pretty good 13-year-old portfolio, I could tap out of the volunteer ring easily. But another key reason behind my involvement is the satisfaction of doing something good for the community, whether it be with craft, strategy, or plain heavy-lifting. This not only acts as a counter but also helps enhance the creativity spent on everyday work projects. It’s this involvement that guided me to appreciate that what designers do for a living is important, and can do more than help organizations create artifacts. Our training enables us to take big ideas and make them happen.

My goal as incoming president of our AIGA chapter is to grow our design community in strength and purpose. Into one that’s led by 10’s that influence and inspire the 1’s. By doing so, not only do we accrue the inspiration to make our work better, but we demonstrate the value of what we do to the larger non-design community. This has materialized into our current approach to the following challenges:

How do we fold AIGA and the design community into the larger philanthropic community of DFW and inspire members to give more of a damn about matters outside of design?

The challenge is reshaping the appeal of doing good outside of work and assuming that the enthusiasm of the 10’s is in fact, rare. We’ve repositioned the purpose behind extending our philanthropic efforts outside of the design community. Instead of saying “do this for the good of the community”—we’ve restructured the conversation to “by doing this, we do good for the community and show the value of what we do for a living in a different context to a greater audience—which translates into a community of better potential clients.”

How can we sustain and grow our current efforts?

Instead of focusing on the design community at large, we re-channeled our messaging towards affinity groups—identifying their individual motivations and positioning our leaders to align their values with the ones our organization wants to foster. Once we feed their needs, we’ll have the attention we need to offer them even more. This approach has successfully brought out community leaders who had stopped coming to industry shindigs, and members who previously didn’t assign any value to getting involved. We’ve seen these members not only join, but volunteer. And not only volunteer, but ask to join our leadership.

How can we encourage and grow our leaders’ involvement, commitment and personal fulfillment?

The key to tripling the size and effectiveness of our board over this last summer was to seek and embed like-minded “rarities” into the core of our team. To sustain their involvement, we’ve committed to teach these leaders to be better leaders. At each board meeting, we share lessons meant not only to encourage them to be better leaders in our organization, but help position them to be better leaders, managers, and team members—tools they can use at work. That core of 10’s then encourages and mentors the 5’s and 1’s, and we inspire everyone to feel vested in our mission by opening up opportunities to contribute no matter their threshold of commitment.

To sustain and grow our organization in strength and purpose, we’re addressing everyone and their motivations—whether they be a lapsed community member or a highly-involved leader—as rarities. We put in a framework of trickle-down mentoring, inspiration, and encouragement. We know that the more each rarity grows involved, the more they grow inspired. We are approaching our challenges with the mindset of a designer solving a problem, and with that we can visualize a community of designer-do-gooders where being a 10 on the philanthropic scale becomes the norm.

Illustration by Frances Yllana

Articles
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
test
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics