Pro bono design support for nonprofits
Submit a proposal for an in-depth, facilitated design collaboration in 2019, at no cost to you.
Designers Available (D/A) connects designers with projects in service of non-profits and community organizations actively facilitating social change through direct service, arts and culture, and grassroots politics and activism. Designers Available was founded by Joelle Riffle, an independent designer, artist, and administrator in November 2016. Joelle works full-time at as a communications and brand manager at a youth writing non-profit and runs an online visual journal called aslittlefear.co. The Designers Available network is made up of over 300 creatives around the world. Contact info (at) designersavailable.com for more information.
Please read the following FAQ to determine if your project is a good fit for Designers Available.
Applications for the first project cycle (Mid-February to the end of April) are closed as of February 1. More project cycles will open in April, July, and September. Please feel free to submit an application if you are interested in any project cycle.
Frequently Asked Questions
A strategic communications plan supported by powerful visual design can help organizations level up in their ability to reach their audiences of supporters and those they help to serve.
Does my organization qualify for Designers Available support?
To receive support from Designers Available, you must meet the following qualifications.
- Small non-profit and grassroots organizations.
- Located anywhere in the United States.
- Don’t have to be a 501(C)3 or otherwise incorporated.
- Can’t be a for-profit business like a shop or similar business where you sell goods or services.
- Can’t have a communications or design staff.
- Can’t be a “design” business in any discipline.
- Ideally, you have never worked with a designer before or only on one or two projects.
What can Designers Available do for my organization?
Our designers can partner with you to create the following and more:
- A brand identity including logos and recommended typography, branded elements, and color and a plan for how to implement it
- Print and digital materials to drive a fundraising campaign
- Event collateral like invitations, printed programs, and presentations
- A robust and manageable strategy for you organization’s communications
- A website to centralize your organization's resources
Who manages projects?
Each Designers Available project is supported by a project manager. The role of the project manager is to facilitate work between community partners (non profits ) and the designers, making the collaboration smooth and healthy. They establish a timeline, check in on deadlines, set up phone calls/meetings and facilitate feedback and conversations which allows the community partners to continue getting the work of their organization done frees up time and effort for the designer to focus on doing design work, making revisions, and being able to sustain pro bono work along with their regular jobs and practices.
What is it like to work with a designer.
- Designers Available offers pro-bono work. Please keep in mind that for paid design work, hourly rates for a designer could range anywhere from $30 to $150. This depends on the kind of work and the individual and the project.
- Even very small projects can take a few weeks to complete. We ask that you not apply designers with a project that needs to be completed in one week. Ideally, no fewer than 6 weeks should be allotted to complete a project. Rushing a project can result in design work that you are unhappy with, which isn’t a good use of your time or the designers time.
- Many of our designers have full-time jobs or freelance practices balancing many clients and projects. Please keep this in mind when communicating around expectations, especially time and responsiveness via email and phone.
- We expect that partners and designers will collaborate to bring the best of all expertise to the work. Most designers are not experts in the work of your organization and we look to you to lead the conversation. We hope that partners will trust the creative process and keep an open mind in the execution of design projects.
- To partner with D/A and our network, it will be required to decide on and document the terms of a project with a work agreement. We will walk you through this process.
- Having a timeline from the start of a project helps everyone to stay on the same page around deadlines.
What does a design process look like.
Below is a sample outline of a project like branding or web design.
- Designer presents a few rough draft options. This option will mostly focus on concept rather than specifics of form and color.
- You will choose one option to move forward with and present feedback on what you’d like to see, what there should be more of, what there should be less of.
- Designer will revise the chosen draft option and incorporate your feedback. The draft will become more specific, often incorporating color. This will be much closer to what the final version will look like.
- You will offer feedback on specifics about this option. Consider this feedback to be the last moment to make big changes to the final design to stay on track. What you see next will be close to the final so bring up any concerns you have. Be sure to share this with any stakeholders if you haven’t already.
- Designer will revise the design and prepare a final design for your approval. This will be the final design before it is finalized.
- You will approve the final design or request an extension of the project, which will involve adding time to the project and if this was a paid project, would involve paying additional fees. Any feedback at this point should be highly specific.
- Once the design is approved, the designer will produce the final design and present you with the assets.
What happens after a design project.
- The designer will prepare the final files as well as help you understand anything you need to know to use the design work, such as a brand guideline, website log-in, or tutorial on making edits to your site.
- After this period has finished, you will be responsible for managing your design going forward. You will pay for hosting and domain names, hire designers and other production help, send to printers, etc.
- We’d love to know how the process went for you - What can D/A know about how to improve the experience for partners going forward. Let’s talk on the phone or meet in person for an exit interview.
Why pro bono?
We hope that collaborating with a designer on a pro bono basis will help you understand what it’s like to work with a designer. We believe that design is a valuable language that everyone should have access to. We offer pro bono services as an introduction to what design has to offer. We hope that in the future, you can raise funds or allocate part of your operating budget to hire design support, or even learn a little more about making your own design work for your organization. If you are interested in hiring a freelance designer, we are happy to connect you with someone in our network who can support you with paid work. We also think it’s important that creative work around social justice should be collaborations between those most affected by the issues in question. Learn more about how we raised funds to support a small stipend for this years projects.
What happens if I'm accepted?
- You will be contacted if your application to receive pro bono support is accepted.
- We will work with you to draft a project proposal which will be shared with our network of more than 250 designers.
- We will get in touch to share the portfolios and info of designers who are interested and available in collaborating. You will choose the designer you want to work with.
- A kick-off call or meeting will be facilitated by a volunteer project manager to introduce all parties and draft a timeline and work agreement.
- A project manager will help you mediate the project and stay within the timeline and project scope.
- Projects will run from February-April, April-June, July-September, and September-November.
What if I have a small scale project I need support on?
If you have a smaller project that you’d like to share with our network, please fill out this form. Your proposal will be included as a listing that will be available to our members who will contact you with their interest to collaborate. Please note that it can take about two weeks to kick-off a project and at least three weeks to complete, no matter the scale. While our major projects are facilitated by a project manager who helps set up a timeline, define a work agreement, and keep a project within scope, projects shared in our listing are self-supported.