A great question and a great word.
Jeremy didn’t ask me but feel like I want to answer it as well. Fundamentally, I would love to think we all pour our hearts and souls into every aspect of this sector. But realistically I think that’s not exactly true. But that’s another posting for another time.
Quite a few years back now, I was fresh out of journalism school but had discovered a love and appreciation for graphic design and decided to move in that direction instead of writing. One of my first jobs was at a mid-sized agency in Toronto – you know – one of those ones who could do it all?
I spent hours and hours creating ads, posters, logos, annual reports etc for trucks, insurance, telephone companies and more insurance… I learned to operate and design very quickly for fear the creative director who stood over my shoulder art directing every thing I worked on for 5 hours straight every day would smack me if I couldn’t do what he wanted… (”What do you mean you can’t make it look like there’s a mountain in the back of that dump truck? I want more trees on it – and some clouds… – and hey this was in the early days of photoshop – version 2.5! which means this sort of stuff was IMPOSSIBLE!!!!)
I liked learning more about design but wasn’t really happy with being one of those who helped sell more stuff people likely didn’t need.
My girlfriend (now wife) Tara moved from her last job to her first career position. From a Mastermind store to Stephen Thomas – a direct marketing agency for charities, getting the job with a little help from a friend who already worked there.
Tara was employed as coordinator and worked with some amazing people who taught her to be an incredible fundraisier, account manager and consultant… Anyhow, not long after she started, somehow, she convinced those she was working with to let me try my hand at a designing a direct mail package.
I’m pretty sure it was for the Schizophrenia Society of Canada. A House/Renewal 3 package. I remember Tara telling me that it would be a #10 envelope, kraft stock and it would have a simple tagline that read, “Did you remember?” and with a classic Steve Thomas creative touch – a little drawing of a elephant.
I was hooked.
Over the years I have thought how can I design a 8.5? x 3.5? for probably the 10,000 time and design it like I’ve never designed it before? Some days it feels like I am part of machine that is just turning it’s wheels to get the “widget” out.
Some days, I stop what I am doing, look at my boxes of my samples, or glance at all the electronic dockets for all the work I have done in the past few years and I think – WOW.
Greenpeace, Amnesty, UNICEF, Foster Parents Plan, Canadian Red Cross, Daily Bread Food Bank, Interval House, Princess Margaret, Surf Lifesaving, CNIB, WSPA, The Lung Association, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – big and small and on and on.
How many people or animals have been saved, helped, rescued, protected, inspired and changed because of my design. How many millions of dollars have been raised because of my design. That’s not ego – that’s pride.
Its that pride that allows me to stay focused on what I am trying to do – which isn’t ‘amazing graphic design’. It’s to be a world changer
I used to tell some of the younger people I worked with – there are days that you feel like screaming or that you think everyone is trying to make your life very hard and you wonder “Why bother?” – but in those moments – you need to remind yourself what you are doing and more importantly – why you are doing it.
We are world changers – and I’ve worked with some amazing ones. We are a lucky bunch in my opinion and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
So the question is: Philanthropassion – is it in you?