Issue that starts conversation between NGOs and designers in Latvia

There are many not-for-profit organizations with social and ecological goals in Latvia and numerous designers-strategists who work on creating design solutions, new services, communication strategies, etc. However, the collaboration between designers and non-profit organizations is rare, so in my bachelor’s thesis, I researched to understand the underlying reasons.

During the project, I conducted interviews with the ten largest non-profits and ten designers. This method helped to find more objective opinions of the organization members. On the one hand, the research showed that the majority of representatives of NGOs perceive design as a decorative, not a strategic tool. On the other hand, the designers admitted they had not collaborated with non-profits because of the perception that the organizations lack funds to pay for design services and understanding of the design process itself.

In the first stage of the project, I aimed to break the stereotypes between designers and non-profits and encourage mutual understanding and communication. The magazine was chosen as a solution medium for both audiences. In the second round of interviews, designers were asked to tell about their successful projects that could illustrate the nature of their work more objectively, so the organizations could get insight into how the design process may contribute to achieving the social and ecological goals. Also, the organizations were asked about the opportunities for project funding and the possible collaboration models with designers.

All the interviews were positively intended and were included in the publication. The magazine was then handed out to both parties and caused surprising results. The organizations were surprised and very interested in design methods as a tool for potentially achieving their goals, and some of the designers were interested in working with the organizations after learning more about their insights.