Since starting my freelance design career at the age of 16, I have been giving the majority of my work away for free. In 2008, I launched verynice, a global design and innovation consultancy that donates more than half of its work to nonprofit organizations.
Since starting my freelance design career at the age of 16, I have been giving the majority of my work away for free.
In 2008, I launched verynice, a global design and innovation consultancy that donates more than half of its work to nonprofit organizations. Over the course of five years, we have been able to perfect a business model that relies on substantial volunteerism and, as a result, we have been able to grow the business to be home to a volunteer staff of more than 250 people in order to help hundreds of nonprofit organizations across the globe save nearly $1 million.
By institutionalizing a 50 percent pro-bono commitment, giving back has become an integral component of our business. Now we want to share five reasons we think freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses should do the same.
1. Low expenses for a nonprofit results in higher impact.
Every year, in the United States alone, nonprofit organizations allocate close to eight billion dollars toward marketing and design expenditures. It is at the core of our mission at verynice to allow organizations to re-invest those resources back into their cause in order to allow them to generate more impact. Can you imagine what could be done with a spare eight billion dollars per year?
2. Seeing giving back as a side-project cripples our chance to make change.
Change only occurs when people start to focus. Giving back and volunteerism at large is often seen as an extracurricular activity that is initiated after work hours, maybe even during the weekend. If we want to get serious about making an impact, it is time to find new ways to make volunteerism an integral component of our day-to-day lives and businesses.
3. Good karma is good business.
People often ask what we get out of this. Aside from good karma, giving a substantial amount of your time and resources to an organization or an individual can result in good business. By helping one another, you are able to form meaningful relationships—and relationships are the basis of a successful career.
4. Philanthropy isn’t just for the old guys.
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have become the poster boys of philanthropy. This is great, but it makes giving seem like an unobtainable act. The old model of business designs for the short term. The old model of wealth is to introduce philanthropy after the riches. The new model of business, however, designs for the long term. It designs for simultaneous wealth and philanthropy.
5. When you learn to be resourceful, you can become a better innovator.
When you are working on projects with absolutely no budgets, you find ways to become very resourceful. This isn’t a new idea. Working under restrictions has long been the method of success for many artists, so why not use that to your advantage?
Social impact is on a treadmill. Not because there’s less innovation in the world, but because services like design are far too expensive. Far too little of an organization’s budget goes directly toward its core impact. If every business in the world gave half of their work away for free, we could allow humanity, and the progress toward actual change, to get off of that treadmill and run. Join me in a commitment to give half of your work away for free, and discover what that means to you. For more on this, please check out my new book,"How to Give Half Your Work Away for Free".
Design by Kate Slovin
This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.