We can do better.

As designers we think highly of our chosen profession, but do we really deliver?

Sure we make the world prettier, but we also try to make it work better. We clean up and organize our small corner of the world, whether that be on the web or in print. We try to make our clients or employers more successful by lending our knack for creative thinking and understanding of visual communication to everything from their products and services to their marketing. For years we’ve asked the world to take what we do seriously and stressed the “the value of design” and it appears as though that message has largely sunken in. Has design finally arrived? Is it the vital cultural force and strategic advantage we’ve always claimed it to be? The proof of it’s strategic advantage has never been more clear, but what of it as a cultural force? Does it give back to the community? Does it improve not only how our businesses are run or products conceived, but also how we live our lives? 

This is the question we should be asking ourselves. Do we want to continue on as a group of designers, talking to other designers about design? Or do we want to do more. Charitable motivations aside, and forgive me if this is cynical, but I’d assert that it is vital for the continuing advancement of our profession that we seek to do more.

Design for social good puts designers at the center of the community.

When we take our skills and turn them toward effecting change, or aiding others who seek to do the same we expose our skills to the community around us in a way that demonstrates the value of what we bring to the table. As an organization designers can provide meaningful examples of Design’s potential to the community.

Design for good means more than posters.

Posters are a terrific medium for communicating bold ideas and provoking dialogue, but we have other tools in our belt. Design is utilized across a spectrum of needs and we’ve demonstrated that our thought processes can yield positive results beyond graphic design.

Pro Bono.

We should do work for free. And we should be doing it more often. Lawyers and architects have understood this for years. The AIA encourages it’s members to pledge 1% of their time to pro-bono work. The American Bar Association sets the standard at 50 hours. At one time there was discussion of AIGA calling on designers to set a standard of 5%. I'm not sure why that died out, but I support it fully.

Nothing to it but to do it.

I choose join designers around the country who are lending their talent to social causes, and pledge to donate at least 5% of my time over the next 12 months to social impact groups and charitable causes..

There are already designers out there doing great work. Google them. In the mean time check out this great Ted talk by the always jovial Aaron Draplin.