- When asked how many graphic designers periodically do pro-bono work (free or greatly discounted), we all raised our hands.
- When asked how many of these projects turn into headaches, again, we all raised our hands (kind of like the headache we’re getting from the construction happening in front of our venue, Ground Zero Coffee Company).
- When asked if any of these result in something meaningful and beneficial, we laughed, and most of us put our hands down.
C’mon! Not meaningful? Not beneficial?
After talking it out, our group came up with helpful ideas that promise a more successful pro-bono project for both the graphic designer and the client. After all, our goal is a final product that’s the best it can be, whether the client is paying or not.
Establish good communication
The most effective projects happen when the graphic designer and client work together as a team to accomplish a goal. This is true for pro-bono projects, as well. Clear, detailed and timely communication is a must.
Often pro-bono projects are for non-profits, which commonly are committee-based organizations. The best design committees consist of three people or less, with one person serving as a designated spokesperson. This person should communicate to the graphic designer.
Define goals and stick to them
Objectives…Scope of project…Deadlines…Roles and responsibilities. These are things the designer and client must carefully define and then stick to.
Staying on course ensures the project can be completed on schedule and according to plan.
Know the value of the project
The biggest frustration of my designing peers is that pro-bono clients don’t understand the value of the product they’re receiving. Unfortunately, “the less paid, the less valued” is a common woe.
Designer’s aren’t looking for an ego pat (although promotional recognition sure is nice—after all, business success is what enables us to offer pro-bono work). Rather, when clients know the value of the product, they’re more likely to fulfill their responsibilities and the end result is so much better.
If your designer doesn’t reveal what he would normally charge for your project, come right out and ask. You’ll benefit by knowing!
Work with a contract
A contract protects both the designer and the client, and should be created through back and forth discourse. It should outline the project; who will do what, when it will be done, and for what cost. It should create an overall understanding for both sides.
Basically, a contract fulfills all of the points listed above and is always necessary, even for the pro-bono project.
Adunate Word & Design is proud to take on two pro-bono projects per year—one large and one small. These are projects I have passions for and strongly support.
Adunate is currently booked for its 2011 pro-bono projects. However, if you’re one of those wonderful people who plans ahead and wish to apply for assistance in 2012, please click here.