DesignEgg (formerly DesignCan) is an aspiring nonprofit creative services organization. Through fundraising and strategic partnerships, it aims to offer free graphic design, photography, and video services to deserving artists, entrepreneurs, and small institutions across the country. Successful recipients will apply via DesignEgg.org and their project will be considered and voted on by an online community of their peers. During a one-year pilot program, creative services will be provided by Jess & Andy Wickstrom of Wickstrom Design. If the pilot is successful, DesignEgg will become an entire network of creatives that are able to do meaningful work for deserving clients--and also be paid for their efforts through a nonprofit organization.
Like many designers, Wickstrom Design has regularly donated services or offered reduced fees to nonprofit organizations and projects we believe in. We've made album art for burgeoning music labels, done photo documentation of charity events, and branding for young businesses. We've often wondered, however, if there might be a better solution for those on a budget and in need of quality creative services. After all, who really likes to ask for things for free? Many of our clients have great respect for creative work and only wish they weren't constrained by the limitations of their funding.
This summer, after more than ten years working in Chicago, we're evolving from an after-hours design team (we're quitting our day jobs) into a full-time, full-service mobile firm. As part of this new endeavor, we are launching a pilot program for what will hopefully become a nonprofit sister organization of Wickstrom Design called DesignEgg. The project arises from a fundamental belief that effective designcan help a great idea to grow into a successful business; can affect social change; and can give voice to creative endeavors. Additionally, during a one-year process of travel, research, and experimentation, we hope to discover that designers can lend their talents to projects with meaning, and be compensated fairly using a crowd-sourced model of funding.
How it Works: With Your Support
In its first iteration, DesignEgg will be funded via individual contributions. Funds raised will go towards research and development of the project--the nuts and bolts of getting a website established and building awareness for the concept--as well the first round of creative services grants. These grants, or "DesignEgg Credits" will be awarded to those who apply and are selected through an online voting process (where anyone can apply and vote) with oversight by a selection committee. Grantees will be awarded a specific amount of credits which they can then redeem for services, which may include: graphic design, videos, and photography.
The first $10,000 raised will be allocated as follows during a one-year period beginning August 1, 2014:
- $800: Processing Fees (5% Kickstarter, 2-5% Payment Processing)
- $950: Rewards and Shipping (stickers, tote-bags, mugs, t-shirts, etc.)
- $1,250: Start-up Expenses for DesignEgg awareness-building campaign and website (vehicle graphics, promotional postcards, web-hosting, email services, etc).
$7,000: DesignEgg Credits awarded to successful applicants (delivered in the form of design services by Andy & Jess).
Any additional funds raised will contribute to our stretch goal objectives, allowing us to:
Work with technology consultants to enhance the DesignEgg website and facilitate efficient and transparent crowd-sourced voting,
- Provide additional DesignEgg credits to successful applicants
Attend arts and technology conferences for educational/networking opportunities (our dream would be to attend the next TED conference in Vancouver!)
Why a Mobile Firm? Expanding our Reach
Chicago has been our home for the past eleven years. Since moving here in 2003, we have benefited from the large network of individuals, businesses, and organizations based in and around the city. But there are, of course, diverse groups of people doing exciting work across the nation--and we want to get to know them! That's why we're taking to the road with our fiberglass camper and embarking on a mission to see the country and introduce new audiences to the DesignEgg model.
We plan to stop by all kinds of places--from arts-based collectives and small museums to social justice, environmental and community service organizations--to introduce ourselves and explain what DesignEgg might do for them. We also hope to get lots of feedback on our idea and build a whole community of supporters. In the process of traveling and connecting with new people, we will expand our applicant pool, making the selection process rich and competitive. We'll also be executing projects as we go, working from our mobile design unit and documenting the entire experience on our blog.
This Can be the Start of Something Big
After the exploratory period (August 2014-August 2015) we plan to settle down and do a full review to assess the feasibility of a community-funded creative services organization like DesignEgg. Hopefully, we will have learned a lot through the process and can retool and establish permanent nonprofit status that will make us eligible to apply for local and national grants to continue our work. In Fall 2015, Jess will be entering a graduate program in Executive Nonprofit Leadership at Regis University in Denver--she intends for this project to be informed by and benefit from her studies.
Risks and challenges
As we embark on this ambitious adventure--to travel cross-country and give away $10,000 in design services--we will meet some unique challenges. There will be risk of equipment breakdowns (vehicle, computers, cameras...) which might delay follow-through on a project. There might be disagreement amongst our community over which projects are funded. We might find a lack of qualified applicants or discover complications with successful applicants (their project changes, dissolves, etc).
We feel confident that we will guard against and combat issues, should they arise, by: (1) assembling an experienced and trustworthy oversight committee. We will draw upon professional connections to find individuals with a range of experience to help guide and oversee this project; (2) maintaining transparency by documenting all our activities on our blog; and (3) staying upbeat and committed to our work with the help of continuous feedback from our backers and clients.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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