Currently, there are 2-3 non-profit organizations I work with on a fairly regular basis. I’m fortunate to be at a point where I have enough paying clients that I can afford to dedicate a good amount of time weekly, or sometimes monthly, to pro bono work.
This hasn't always been the case, and may not be for many people, but for those who are at all able to volunteer even just a couple hours a month, here are a few reasons why!
1. Contribute to a good cause
This may be a tad obvious, but still very important. Of our 100-130 waking hours every week, how much time do we dedicate to society or other people? My eye for design and creative talent shouldn't go to waste on exclusively lucrative work.
2. Add to your experience and portfolio
Granted, my business is only a couple months old, and I’ve only been doing freelance graphic and motion design for a few years, so this aspect may be more important to someone like me than to a designer with 20+ years of experience. However, I’m always going to be learning, and volunteering my design services is one way to gain experience and work on (and showcase) diverse projects.
One project through which I’ve gained experience and portfolio pieces is my work with Synergy International Christian School. I’ve particularly enjoyed this volunteer work since it involved creating a brand from the ground up and producing a variety of branding and marketing pieces, including a promo video, which is currently in the works, and a website yet to come.
3. Make professional contacts
Volunteering for non-profit organizations puts you in contact with people that will grow your professional network. These contacts could very well become potential clients or referrers, or people you can talk shop with and learn from.
4. Learn within a different work dynamic
Working on design projects without an hourly or fixed rate involves a different work dynamic than your usual client contract. Sometimes a new dynamic presents challenges in terms of time management, project prioritization, communication, and other issues, but facing these challenges stimulates personal and professional growth.
5. Feel good about yourself
It's pretty simple: doing good makes you feel good. While personal gratification probably shouldn't be the ultimate goal, it's okay to recognize it as a motivating factor. Creating a quality logo or a marketing piece to help a non-profit organization reach their goals is a good feeling.
This is one of the reasons I enjoy volunteering for Safe Haven's capital campaign so much. Safe Haven is an organization that provides shelter and help to abused women and children. My small contribution helps them achieve that purpose, and it gives me a lot of satisfaction.
What’s been your experience with volunteer design work? Have I left out any reasons why it’s such a good idea? I'd love to hear your thoughts!