Design Business Association replies to charity challenge

Letters to the Editor should be sent to Design Week, 50 Poland Street, London W1V 4AX. Fax: 0171-970 4165. e-mail

Following the Design Business Association’s announcement of a new plan to create a fund which will help more charities use design effectively, you have, in your leader and article (DW 15 May) challenged the DBA’s priorities, and questioned whether we are doing the right things to help our members be more successful and competitive.

Invited to respond, I think it is important to address briefly all the points you raise. The DBA is actively working on many fronts to both help design companies improve the way they run their businesses, and to promote design effectiveness to all key audiences.

Obviously, as we rely largely on the voluntary help of our executive committee who all have their own businesses to run, we need to be focused and prioritise our efforts. However, with their help, we are offering hugely successful training, recruitment and referral services, as well as our high-profile awards. Having effectively lobbied Government, we are now, in reference to your point about helping with advice on entering global markets, on the Department of Trade and Industry’s Creative Export Task Group.

Improving human resources management within the industry may be a “soft” issue, as you say, but if current trends across the business world are anything to go by, it will be increasingly crucial to company survival. As we are still at canvassing stage with our plans in this area, we will soon find out whether our members think it’s a priority too.

Our initiatives are, as always, developed with our members’ needs in mind, and in consultation with them, rather than in response to a “quick fix” agenda set by Design Week.

Finally, on to the issues you raise over our new initiative, Design for Good. Here I do feel you have missed the point with your concern about questionable use of donor’s money and DBA resources.

Firstly, Design for Good will be a fund, with charitable status, run separately to the DBA’s accounts, and maintained through sponsorship, fundraising and patronage. Its administration and financing will have no bearing on the DBA’s current resourcing or priorities.

Secondly, we believe it is very important to broaden the scope of our promotion of design effectiveness, and find as many ways as possible to bring it to the national consciousness. In the business world today there is a groundswell towards more ethical business practice, and a realisation that consumers think better of companies which are sincere in their willingness to do something for the common good.

I think you will find that design companies, too, see this as important, and rather than exclusively offering design for profit, will welcome new ways of helping charitable causes.

Lastly, as you have always promoted collaboration, I would have thought you would support our approach to the Media Trust, and our attempt to find ways to combine, rather than “duplicate” our efforts in this direction.

Members who showed their support by turning up in gratifyingly large numbers at the launch of Design for Good last Thursday, were positive and enthusiastic about the idea.

Colin Porter


Design Business Association

London EC1

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