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How to secure pro bono design services

I have worked for a number of voluntary organisations and charities (all small) and for each have managed to secure pro-bono work from designers/agencies. I am lucky because I have a lots of friends that have come from art school and for this reason I can approach them directly. However, there are a number of other ways of securing free design services you could try.


Turn the tables

Rather than approaching people with a begging bowl, turn the tables.
You have lots to offer a designer. Many are frustrated by the run-of-the-mill jobs that they have to work around. You offer them the opportunity to do something for a good cause, and potentially think out of the box (as long as you are happy for them to do this). You offer them the opportunity to add something different to their CV and can possibly network them into the local vol orgs/charities that operate within your circle. Try to remember this when approaching people.


Think local

Have a look at local designers' websites. Who's work catches your eye, or looks like they come from the same ethos? You have nothing to loose by approaching them stating your needs, and what you can offer in return (be sure to add that you will mention them where ever their work is displayed).

Also think about approaching local design students - either FE or HE. You could do this by going directly to the Head Lecturer and seeing if you could organise a project around your needs (this would require some planning and would need to fit in the curriculum) - alternatively have a look for a student notice board, their facebook page etc. and let them know what you need and what you can offer. Some may even consider an internship so that they have something to put down on their CVs.


Find a volunteer

Think about offering a volunteer position. Write a volunteer role description being as clear as possible with regards to what you want creating (e.g. brand, logo, website, posters, leaflets etc), whether you would expect the individual to be office/home based etc and how long you could offer someone the position. Make sure that you could reimburse them with out of pocket expenses (e.g. travel costs). Talk to your local volunteer centre about where else you could advertise this.
I have found that these more unusual volunteer positions get great results...

In Scotland we had a national youth volunteering scheme and I worked along-side some fabulous design graduates who were finding it difficult to get a job, wanted to expend their CV's/portfolios and get a reference from someone that wasn't a tutor. I have a feeling there is something similar elsewhere in the UK - give it a go.



If all else fails think about talking to local agencies about giving some of their time for free. I have worked with a marketing agency that only charged for 25% of their time - the rest they reported in their publications as their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility.


Top tips

So, to conclude
Think about what you offer the designer:

  • the opportunity to expand current CV/portfolio
  • work with not-for-profit sector
  • opportunity for them to demonstrate their social conscience
  • a break from the old routine
  • a new referee.

Think about what you have to offer the volunteer:

  • somewhere to promote themselves
  • the opportunity to expand their CV and get a reference
  • an office base (out of their bedroom!)
  • a friendly work base
  • chance to build their confidence.

Also you could let the press know about the outcome (e.g. local designer helps local charity) - they love this kind of thing. And if you approach them they may even put your request in the paper too.... if you want help with writing a press release, that is another tip....


Further information


Page last edited Apr 07, 2017 History

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