Help for non-profits to get pro bono creative work done

Called Making Meaning, the initiative is spearheaded by Ms Danielle Ng, 25, from branding consultancy Somewhere Else.
Called Making Meaning, the initiative is spearheaded by Ms Danielle Ng, 25, from branding consultancy Somewhere Else.PHOTO: COURTESY OF DANIELLE NG

Making Meaning, a new website launched in May, hopes to connect creative professionals here with non-profits to support these organisations that are struggling amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Danielle Ng, 25, spearheaded the initiative and manages the site with her colleagues from branding consultancy Somewhere Else.

Ms Ng said she had some spare time at work, as the design industry had been affected by the pandemic, so she came up with the idea of a platform where creative professionals could volunteer their skills to help non-profits.

These skills include digital and graphic design, experience and service design as well as branding and copywriting.

The website was launched 11/2 weeks after the idea was conceptualised.

Ms Ng, an associate creative director, said: "While monetary donations and on-the-ground volunteers are, of course, what non-profits would look for first, design can actually be a very useful tool that can help them reach out to more people in the community and educate or raise funds.

"Since they have no budget, they often end up designing in-house, and the result may not communicate their message and values as well as they would like."

So far, about 180 people have registered to be members on the platform, where they can browse the volunteering opportunities available and indicate their interest.

The non-profits - of which about 30 to 40 have signed up - can then select the person to work with.

About 30 creative professionals have started work on projects with non-profits so far, such as Mr Kenneth Mah, 32, who runs his own copywriting practice, called Verb, and has taken on three projects.

Mr Mah said he now reserves his weekends for such writing projects.

"It's very satisfying to know that I have the relevant skill set not just to pay the bills, but also to help serve the community," he said.

Another volunteer is 22-year-old Yulianna Frederika, a graphic designer who worked on a project for food charity Food From The Heart.

"I felt bad about not being able to volunteer during the pandemic due to safety and health concerns. I was very glad when I came across Making Meaning and realised I could lend my creative skills from the safety of my home, instead of the usual physical help," she said.

A Good Space, which provides change-makers with free space to hold their events, is one non-profit that has utilised the platform.

Its community lead, Mr Vincent Ng, said the organisation had been looking for someone to help with note-taking via illustrations for a panel discussion it was organising.

He received four e-mail messages from volunteers within a day of posting the project brief on the site.

"Their portfolios were diverse, encompassing different styles but they were all united by a heart for service and to give back, even when times have been difficult for the design industry," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2020, with the headline 'Help for non-profits to get pro bono creative work done'. Print Edition | Subscribe