My experience with volunteering my design skills
Like many people, COVID left me at a loss. I wanted to help, but had no idea how. I did my best to buy locally made fabric masks and I hunkered down with my mom and a whole lot of ice cream. The initial adjustment to working from home wasn’t so bad because I already had a home office from my freelance business. After a while, I needed more to do than just my work and Netflix routine.
There’s nothing I hate more than feeling helpless, so I decided there had to be something I could do. This is when I discovered Catchafire. An online site where nonprofits can post volunteer opportunities to complete, like financial projects, making calls, or advertising projects. I have been using my design skills to help organizations better brand themselves during the pandemic. The best part is that I can do it all online to help keep the virus from spreading.
My very first project that i accepted was from an organization in North Carolina, called the Wonder Connection. This awesome organization sends art and science projects to kids in the hospital. It was a particular mission that struck a chord in me because I spent some time in the hospital as a kid from struggles with asthma. I remember spending time with crayons and watercolor kits to keep myself entertained and I can only imagine how much better my stay would have been if I had the opportunities that these kids have. The project started with just one postcard. They loved how quickly I responded with the design that they asked me to continue on more projects. Now, I’m working on activity sheets, flyers and more. I’m very excited to have a project like this. Because this first partnership went so well, I volunteered for 2 more organizations: the Arthur Project in NYC and the IM Hope Center in California. The Arthur Project was in need of an infographic for their youth development program to showcase the work they’ve done in the past year. The IM Hope Center provides help and resources for immigrants coming to the United States.
Working with these organizations has not only kept me busy during quarantine, but has opened up my eyes to the many struggles of this nation and around the world. Being able to see the individual faces of the people I could help has given me a real drive towards doing better design work. It has since inspired me to shift my business to focusing on nonprofits and businesses that are trying to focus on social change. I love being able to help out these awesome organizations to help them focus on the bigger matters at hand instead of focusing on trying to create content from scratch.
The point here is that the world now is a mess and if we have these gifts we should find the time to give back. I still find time to manage my business and make money with my full time job but having these volunteer opportunities helps me to focus on the good work that still needs to be done. Anyone can volunteer their skills, whether it’s with a shelter or a food bank. You don’t even have to leave the house! You can read grants to help decide where funds should go or help manage a social media page. It doesn’t take long either. Most projects only need a few hours for a one-off project or several hours a week for longer opportunities. There’s so much to gain and nothing to lose from starting with Catchafire or websites like it.
Anybody can help to make the world a better place and we can do something. Change is made from the ground up and it always starts with something small. Find the time to make someone else’s day by volunteering. It’s always worth the time. Even if you are the busiest person in the world (and everyone is wearing multiple hats during this pandemic), try to carve a little time to do something good. More often than not, it will just feel good to do a little good. Just make sure that you don’t stress yourself out over it. We all could use a little help and that’s why volunteer efforts are even more important now during all this chaos.
PS: if you want change, vote. The whole ticket. Vote for your lives because that is what’s at stake. Vote.
Here are some awesome resources to start your volunteer journey: