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  • Stephanie Downs

    Love what you are doing! We should collaborate as I started an online platform where anyone with a skill can donate their time, which is hired as usual, but what money they charge goes to the charity of their choice tax-free -- www.Voolla.org

  • Adam Johnson

    This is a great write up and an even greater initiative by verynice. Recently it struck me that I wanted to give by a certain portion of my time for a social cause, something that was needed -- for free. As a graphic designer, I looked and searched all over for a resource that would lead me to a list or a collection of people who need help, creatively. Be it a logo, or brochure, website, whatever. I could not find a resource, a network that led me to a place I could donate my time.

    I have the idea to create a network of individuals and organizations who have a need for creative services but maybe can't afford it or offer market price. I would really like to implement this sort of thing and see how it would do.

    Is there a resource already out there like this that anyone knows of? Who anyone be interested in this idea?

    Great post Matthew! Thanks!!

  • catchafire.org

    What a wonderful article. We especially like the last paragraph and completely agree with you Matthew, the skills based volunteering movement has the power to make big changes in the future! Really admire the work you are doing.

  • morrice

    That's truly great. I was doing the something similar 30 years ago. I hear what Valerie says, but if you are providing advice and design services where there wouldn't have been any then that isn't devaluing the paid work. I took a pay cut to work as a Senior Graphic designer for a Design Charity were some of my time was dedicated to free advice to unfunded community groups. Some of the profit from paid work went towards paying for this as well as outside funding for that part of the service. I also organised and supervised regular student work placements who would gain valuable work experience providing a no cost design service for those groups following on from that initial advice.

  • Sharon Lipinski

    Matthew, You blazing a new trail, and I have no doubt that the future of business is headed in this direction. It's not enough to just work and make money. That's easy. The hard part is making it matter. I've been writing a blog post a day on the question, "Why Give". (www.changegangs.com/blog). I would love to hear your answer to this question and share it with my readers.

    I'll drop you an email about connecting for interview.

  • DoGoodConnect

    Great piece, Matthew! We can't wait to see you in NYC's Do Good Connect this May!

  • Valerie J.

    Which means that skills based volunteering also means that we continue to devalue design skills. We already accept less commission than we should. Architecture for Humanity and 1% through the AIA are already doing this. While this may be verynice it is pulling the design industry economically in the wrong direction,

    • Matthew Manos

      That is actually completely false, sorry. According to the SBA, there are 27.5 million small businesses. That makes up for 99.9% of businesses in the United States. As of 2012, there are 1.04 million non-profit organizations. If we choose not to profit off of those that do not seek to profit, we can make our money elsewhere, easily. By taking money away from a non-profit's budget to make impact, we are taking away from their potential to make impact. 1% is not enough, in my opinion, which is why we strive to create a model that dedicates over 50%, while still thriving as a company. I define an extracurricular activity as something we spend less than half of our efforts doing. If we want to get serious about making an impact, it is my sincere belief that we need to start making giving back an integral component of business, something that gets a lot of focus, not something we do on the side.

      • Valerie J.

        This is not completely false. I am specifically referring to the design industry. My own firm also practices what you are preaching and then some in actually making an impact. We are highly regarded and respected in our community as exactly the kind of business practice that you are referring to however, design professionals do not get paid what they are worth and if we are speaking in the architectural world which I don't think you are referring to it gets even more difficult.
        I agree 1% is not enough and sadly there are many design firms that don't even do that.
        There are always those who will give more than their share and then some. You clearly seem to be one of those people as well as I am.

        • Matthew Manos

          It is great to hear about your work - would love to continue the conversation via email to learn more about your firm: verynice.co/contact

  • Erin Levin

    Love this, thank you! I'm committed :).
    I'm applying for your time now!

  • Muriel King

    I really like the idea of taking volunteerism one step further by going beyond "just picking up trash." I started a community organization that included the beautification of the main street with succulents and drought resistant plants. Now we have a core group of people helping to maintain the landscaping. Trash is now less of a problem. because the beautiful landscaping (done with the help of students from a nearby high school) encourages less people to litter and others to have a trash bag with them to pick up any trash while taking a walk.

    • Matthew Manos

      That sounds like an amazing effort, Muriel! Keep up the good work :)

  • Nicole Hess

    inspiring.
    i'm on a volunteer journey to create a community "hub" for all organizations (nonprofit, interest based, political, you name it) in Miami - and this is great inspiration to keep going. THANK YOU!

    • Matthew Manos

      Awesome, Nicole! I'm really glad this model is inspiring to you. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any advice on your journey.

      • Nicole Hess

        thanks for your offer Matthew, will keep it in mind :)

  • Jessica Hendrawidjaja

    I would love to serve more with my design skills! Though I'm not a design major, I've been tinkering AI/Ps since middle school and been creating designs for non-profits throughout my college years. Love that there's an actual platform that does this!

    • Nicole Hess

      Hi Jessica,
      If interested, what I'm helping to build is hoping to receive community leader support and funding in the next few weeks. We could use any skills you would like to donate. Just putting it out there :)

      • Jessica Hendrawidjaja

        Hey Nicole! Would love to get connected! Find me on twitter @jessicahdrw

  • Corinne Mockler

    First, I want to start by saying verynice is a great concept and your intentions are obviously coming from the right place! As a graphic designer who does both for-pay jobs and pro-bono, I agree with and applaud you.

    The thing is....I also work for an environmentally-based non-profit, and one of the many volunteer opportunities we invite people to participate in is, specifically - cleaning up a beach (one of our preserves, in fact). You mentioned this simple form of volunteering *twice* in your article, and in a very flippant tone that suggested it was nowhere near as important or personally rewarding as what you were doing. While I agree with you that people should offer up their professional skills for the good of others, I do not agree with discounting the admittedly simple, but no less important, act of volunteering to clean up a beach.

    I just think your message could have much stronger without disparaging a different, but no less impactful, form of giving back.

    • alainb1

      I couldn't agree more. The statement that "designers are actively looking for an opportunity to use their talents to give back, learn something new, and grow as a maker. Cleaning up a beach doesn’t provide that kind of experience" completely misses the point of service, fails to honor those who do and feels more like someone engaged in a stealth marketing campaign. It's called Pink Washing.

      • Matthew Manos

        I'm sorry you felt this way - the statement was not supposed to shut down cleaning up a beach, it was more intending to say that we can each use our own skills that make us unique to give back, too.

        • Corinne Mockler

          To be quite honest, your choice of wording does make it seem that you were belittling cleaning up a beach. Phrases like "Funny enough, many designers are actively looking for an opportunity to use their talents to give back, learn something new, and grow as a maker. Cleaning up a beach doesn’t provide that kind of experience" and "Anyone can clean up a beach" don't come across as you praising those who clean beaches while also suggesting that there are other ways to give - it just implies that what you're doing is better.

          My advice is that, in the future, if you truly want to say that we should all use our unique skills to give back, then simply talk about the good things you're doing in a way that doesn't require shutting down what the "simple tasks" that other "people have been doing it for years."

    • ctaylordorenkamp

      I agree with Corinne. Can the value of volunteerism be so crudely measured? I volunteer about 5 to 10 hours per week, but I don't keep a log of it. Volunteers offer help with what they're good at or they invest their free time and energy into whatever strikes chords within. If your skills happen to be in design, then great! There are loads of people who need you, but can't afford you! YOUR help may make difference in the the impact of THEIR volunteer efforts! Their volunteer efforts COULD quite possibly play a crucial role in the success of your volunteer efforts! Wonderful to see the circle makes its way round, isn't it?

  • Monica Tome

    a nice story, a great company, a wonderful service

  • wasabimuffin

    i've been volunteering my graphic design skills for quite a while now. it's so great to see not only have you done the same but on a much wider scale.

    keep doing what you do :)

  • Carolina Ödman

    This is good stuff. So many volunteer initiatives seem to miss people's skills. When the executives of a company go paint a school in a poor area as volunteers, they're not helping, they're taking away the painter's job. When they go and sit with the school staff and headmaster helping them manage their school and limited resources better, using the skills they use at work as executives, that's helping. And this is what these guys are doing: using their skills. Well done :)

  • DanFranChap

    I don't know why I haven't heard of verynice before, I'm a design graduate who doesn't really want to do anything but non profit/good impact work. I think the design process is so applicable and underused, especially in the non profitish sector where real problems need meaningful solutions. Thank you for being such a great representative of the design community to the non profit world! The thought of your list of clients who might see designers as problem solvers and welcome them into the world is making my adrenaline kick in... You should start a job board for designer do-gooders!

    Keep up all the awesome :)

  • Katie Richanbach

    I love this concept. I acquired the majority of my volunteer hours in high school doing design work for non-profits. I think it is great for people to utilize their skills for volunteering.

    • Matthew Manos

      That is such a great story, thanks for sharing! Keep up the good work :)

  • maldita

    YOU are a VERYNICE person, Matt Manos! I wish we had someone like you in the Philippines!

    • Matthew Manos

      Thank you so much! We actually have done work in the Philippines before - some close friends and verynicers there :)

  • richiemarketing

    I have worked with Matt and he is not only a very, very good designer but extremely smart...especially about marketing. He is that rare bird who combines an artistic mind with a business mind and, as you can see, he also possesses a wonderful altruism. Verynice is very, very nice to work with.

    • Matthew Manos

      Thanks for the kind words, Rich! I hope to hang out soon :)

  • Omaat .org

    This is fantastic! Do you mind if we guest blog this? We'll of course include all credits and links.

  • graceadams830

    I am 69 years old, retired on Social Security. I am sure I already serve over 20 hours a year doing very low-level clerical work. I also fuss at legislators about various issues in my spare time. I have only very low level talents.

  • Codrut Alexoaia

    I have a similar idea, I would like to teach some children in orphanages how being a webdesigner or graphic designer or anything computer and internet related job could open the world for them. Most of the "help" the orphans get here are on Christmas and Eastern maybe, a few bags of sweets and clothes (they need those also), but when they get 18 and they will have to leave the orphanage...they can only dream for jobs like a hair cutter, or a cook, or plumber. I want to empower them and let them know they could dream bigger than what they are offered now.

    So, the main idea of volunteering is to do good for others, with what you can do best. I volunteered to different projects also (construction, a farm, an animal shelter) but then it stroke me: Why don't I use my knowledge to teach a man how to fish instead of giving him only the "waiting for help" option?

    I will follow your project and maybe I will learn some for mine. Thank you for sharing! And caring!

      • Codrut Alexoaia

        Thank you, This is what we can do, so we must do it. We must teach others that future is not a place we go to, but something we,create. And then, all will go as it should.

  • dmensing

    I love this idea. Do you think a "verynice" chapter at a university could work? I keep thinking about what journalism students could do for our community, if we had a 'verynice' group that volunteered their services.

    • Matthew Manos

      That was a model I had considered! I think it could be an interesting way to scale our efforts, but as of now, we just invite people from all around the world to take part via remote collaboration.

  • Scott Smith

    Skills-based volunteering is a movement. Love hearing these grassroots stories. Keep up the good work!

  • Scott Randolph

    What a great Article. Matt is such a great guy to work with its no wonder why his company is successful!