My main ambition for this site is to help improve the way nonprofits connect with their supporters and stakeholders by enabling them to express their brand more clearly and effectively with excellent visual design.

I will be pub­lish­ing blog posts, examples of my own suc­cess­ful pro­jects, guides to tech­niques and digit­al resources to sup­port three key groups:

Creatives and communications professionals considering a career move to the nonprofit sector

There’s a scarcity of cre­at­ively trained pro­duc­tion spe­cial­ists (espe­cially graph­ic design­ers) work­ing in-house in the non­profit sec­tor. I think that’s led to a lack of cre­at­ive ambi­tion in many char­it­ies. You can see it in a lot of lacklustre and tired design and poor longterm stake­hold­er engage­ment. So when I saw Jonath­an Porritt’s recent D&AD video plea to the cre­at­ive com­munity to step up and begin work­ing dir­ectly on social change I was inspired to refo­cus my pre­vi­ously unfocused blog to help facil­it­ate cre­at­ives to work on social change: not as agency-side con­sult­ants but as staff. Only by going in-house can they bring the bene­fits which visu­ally skilled indi­vidu­als could offer.

I will try to relate some of the pos­it­ive and neg­at­ive exper­i­ences I have had while work­ing as both an in-house cre­at­ive at an inter­na­tion­al NGO and as a volun­teer with vari­ous grass-roots char­it­ies and com­munity groups.

If you’re a cre­at­ive dis­il­lu­sioned with the com­mer­cial sec­tor (and think­ing of mov­ing) I hope some of my exper­i­ences will inspire you to make the same move I did.

Designers, typesetters and production managers working in nonprofits looking to better manage their processes, assets, projects and suppliers

As we know, high qual­ity visu­al design takes time – a resource non­profits often can­not afford. Work­ing with­in tight fin­an­cial con­straints for nearly a dec­ade has forced me to refine my pro­duc­tion and pro­ject man­age­ment skills to increase our team’s effi­ciency (so redu­cing costs) while main­tain­ing our qual­ity threshold.

This blog is the next stage in my mis­sion to improve my pro­fes­sion­al prac­tise. I plan to share the expert­ise I have accu­mu­lated in design, effect­ive cre­at­ive pro­ject man­age­ment and pro­duc­tion with­in a non­profit con­text. I will share some unique guides to using spe­cif­ic tools like InDes­ign as well as man­aging pro­duc­tion pro­cesses or pro­jects, organ­ising assets and find­ing great cre­at­ive sup­pli­ers.

Along­side guid­ance, I will open source a lot of the tem­plates, assets and InDes­ign files I’ve developed to help improve my prac­tise. Hav­ing spent more than a dec­ade gaz­ing envi­ously at how col­lab­or­at­ive and help­ful the open source com­munity is, I decided to try open­ing up my frame­works.

Partly I hope that my frame­works will be bene­fi­cial to oth­er non­profit design­ers, sav­ing them time and money too. But I also hope that if oth­er design­ers scru­tin­ise my work, it will help improve my own prac­tise.

My dream is to ignite a com­munity of like-minded cre­at­ives who will begin con­trib­ut­ing to some sort of InDes­ign asset frame­work which we can all use to improve our prac­tise as non­profit design­ers and to col­lect­ively bene­fit the organ­isa­tions we work with. Per­haps we might even even­tu­ally even form a reg­u­lar Meetup group. If that sounds like some­thing you’d be inter­ested in then please get in touch.

Designers and creative agencies who want to work more effectively with their nonprofit clients

The last group I hope will find this site use­ful are those cre­at­ive agen­cies who work on pro­jects for non­profit organ­isa­tions. For many smal­ler organ­isa­tions without enough funds to hire in-house cre­at­ives, the only way they can access pro­fes­sion­al cre­ativ­ity is to buy it in from extern­al agen­cies.

In my time, I’ve seen this approach pro­duce fant­ast­ic cre­ativ­ity. But I have also wit­nessed some truly miser­able res­ults.

Because the work char­it­ies and non­profits do is so vital. And because they can­not afford to waste pre­cious funds on bad cre­at­ive out­comes, I want to help cre­at­ives, agen­cies and char­ity cli­ents make the most of these oppor­tun­it­ies.

My hope is that, by shar­ing my exper­i­ences of being a cre­at­ive gone nat­ive inside an inter­na­tion­al devel­op­ment agency, I might be able to shed some light on what non­profits look for in agen­cies or cre­at­ive prac­ti­tion­ers, how they per­ceive cre­at­ive agen­cies and sup­pli­ers (or “con­sult­ants” as they refer to them).

I think it’s import­ant that agen­cies learn:

  • the unique char­ac­ter­ist­ics of non­profit pro­grammes staff
  • how pro­jects are planned in the non­profit sec­tor
  • what to do and what not to do when pitch­ing
  • how to explain cre­ativ­ity to char­ity cli­ents
  • set roles and respons­ib­il­it­ies
  • man­age pro­cesses
  • man­age rela­tion­ships with your char­ity cli­ents
  • how to facil­it­ate the cre­at­ive pro­cess with a char­ity
  • how char­it­ies man­age pro­jects

From time to time I also plan to review cre­at­ive work from oth­er social impact organ­isa­tions and non­profits.

Is that it?

Well, not entirely. As a fairly typ­ic­al “cre­at­ive” I do have an ego. So pub­lish­ing a blog can’t pos­sibly be a wholly self­less exer­cise. I’m also hop­ing to build a strong repu­ta­tion in the field: essen­tially I want to come to be seen as a sort of “Beth Kanter of non­profit brand­ing”.

bil­lion extra Twit­ter fol­low­ers would be nice too.

In all ser­i­ous­ness, as well as being a plat­form for shar­ing my exper­i­ence, I also hope this site serves as a show­case for my port­fo­lio of suc­cess­ful pro­jects. A few years ago I did think about re-enter­ing edu­ca­tion to work on a Mas­ters degree. I changed my mind but did decide I would begin to act­ively devel­op my pro­fes­sion­al prac­tise some­where I can pub­lish more gen­er­al per­spect­ives on the state of the design industry and non­profit sec­tor (hope­fully without tak­ing myself too ser­i­ously).

If you’re inter­ested, you can learn more about the design and tech­no­logy which runs this site. And, lastly, if you have any sug­ges­tions for top­ics or issues you’d like me to cov­er on this blog, please get in touch via the Con­tact page. I would be genu­inely delighted to hear from you. Like­wise, if you enjoy this blog and find it use­ful, please con­trib­ute in some way – either com­ment on one of my posts or say hi on Twit­ter.