In the perfect world, we would donate our extra money to charitable organizations. At least Go Welsh thinks so. Craig Welsh, principal of this small graphic design studio, based in Lancaster, PA, created Society of Design (SOD), a non-profit that is "dedicated to multidisciplinary design education and community service." The broad strategy for SOD aims at "elevating the discourse about design" in Central Pennsylvania by organizing an annual speaker series, exhibitions, and design outings. SOD is not trying to cushion its bottom line. Its goal is to give as much money as possible to other non-profits.
Society of Design started in September 2009 and it receives a majority of its income through membership fees. Members are also eligible to compete in design competitions and exhibitions and they help to decide which non-profits get SOD's donations. Guest speakers also have a say. Past speakers from Wieden + Kennedy and Design Army have already chosen where to donate money. Modern Dog will decide closer to their March 4th talk. Also, they will be giving away half of the net proceeds from upcoming SOD merchandise.
As its membership increases, so will SOD's ability to give money to other non-profits. Its goal is to spend the same amount of money on events, trips and exhibitions as it gives away, which is likely to reach $20,000 in the first year. More than that, SOD asks that its members volunteer their time to a non-profit for at least ten hours each year. The sustainability of this funding model lies in the symbiotic relationship that SOD creates with the local design community. Though they use speakers, competitions and exhibitions to attract members, a lot of room exists for other activities to take place. For instance, what if SOD membership fees went towards funding the labor and production of design projects that are geared towards bringing about social change? Society of Design's funding model promotes a new kind of ingenuity that designers can adopt to do any number of things.
Society of Design hosts designer Chip Kidd on February 4 in Harrisburg, PA. Check out societyofdesign.org for more information about the event and what SOD has planned.
I'm a multidisciplinary graphic designer and writer living in New York City. My projects have involved designing identities, motion graphics, web sites, exhibition graphics, publications, as well as copywriting and art directing. I look for projects that challenge my thinking and form-making skills, but I'm especially interested in collaborating with non-profits and civic organizations that need help to address complex social problems in ways that might spur lasting social change.