Let’s face it, good design is necessary and can be very expensive for organizations that are required to have low overhead or limited funds to commit to design campaigns. However, these humanitarian outfits need the exposure and awareness raising power design offers. »Although many nonprofits continue to take a narrow approach to brand management, using it as a tool for fundraising, a growing number are moving beyond that approach to explore the wider, strategic roles that brands can play…« (ssireview.org). Nonprofits need this influence in their desire to change the world they live in. 



There are many cases where design, advertising, and/or marketing has helped raise awareness for humanitarian causes. The Texas Department of Transportation’s »Don’t Mess With Texas« and most recently Melbourne Metro Rail‘s »Dumb Ways to Die« campaigns were wildly successful at educating the not only their target but the world of their messages. John Mescall, of McCann Worldgroup, describes the effect of »Dumb Ways to Die«, »The key to its success is the fact that a worthy message has been embedded into content of such high quality that people are actually paying money to purchase it. To be truly sharable, that’s how good your content must be« (thinkwithgoogle.com). Nonprofits can and should use the same tools to gain market share.

 »You are not just competing against other charity brands or public service announcements. You are competing against advertising and marketing from everybody.«

Humanitarian cause based efforts needs to boost consumer knowledge in order to survive the landscape of visual overload. A guerilla marketing campaign for Water for Life grabbed the attention of New Yorkers when DDB New York placed cup dapperness next to contaminated water sources around the city. »Matt Eastwood, chief creative officer of DDB New York, acknowledged that he had intended to ›shock‹ his audience in part because: ›You are not just competing against other charity brands or public service announcements. You are competing against advertising and marketing from everybody‹« (nytimes.com). It is essential for charitable organizations to break through the every day noise of messaging. They need the skills and knowledge of trained design professionals to cut to the heart of emotions like an accomplished surgeon. Dan Pallotta observes, »The lack of capital prevents you from taking risk. The lack of ability to spend on executive compensation prevents you, sometimes, from getting the kind of savvy people that could pull the capital together or do the advertising and marketing. The lack of ability to spend on marketing means you have less capital, so they are all interconnected« (nytimes.com). The lack of good design in these endeavor leaves the humanitarian sector to fend for themselves in terms of fund raising. Good design can help overcome the hurdles of limited fundraising. 


Today’s professional designers are expected to not only design for print. They are expected to have knowledge and skills in the interactive, mobile, social media, copy writing, presentation, and other realms. This know-how in one person can bring real value to humanitarian causes. With nonprofits needing to keep overhead low (which needs to change), hiring designers allows them to get more bang for their buck. »Even with limited resources, [the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis] uses graphic designers to present its best face to the public. The Design Studio, an internal laboratory for design experimentation at the Walker, is purposely blurring aspect of high and low culture and using more experimental typefaces and more eclectic communication approaches. Posters, catalogs, invitations to exhibitions, and mailers for film and performing art programs often have independent design and typographic approaches, while the calendar and members’ magazine provide a continuity of design« (aiga.com). Humanitarian organizations need to be able to tap into this wealth of knowledge in order to gain greater awareness, exposure, and capital. These agencies need the ability to hire and utilize designers to do more do good work.