Vox Pop

This week The Council for the Protection of Rural England announced that Pentagram is revamping its identity for free. What are the pros and cons of doing pro bono work?

‘I think that if a company can afford to do work for free for a worthwhile cause then that’s great. My only concern is that in (Pentagram) helping rural England’s campaign and cause, rural designers are potentially missing out on vital business. This project would not be just simply a logo, but a whole host of materials, websites, exhibitions and so on.’

Vince Frost, Partner, Frost Design

‘The pros are: you get to do some great work for a cause you have some sympathy with, without financial debate getting in the way. The client (assuming it’s a charitable cause) gets to spend its limited resources wisely, rather than spreading what [for it] may be a large sum, but is in reality (for even the most overhead-free freelance) a paltry competition fee, across a number of designers, the results of which it has no means of evaluating, because competitions don’t allow the depth of familiarisation required to get the job right. And the cons are: The more of it you do, the more it becomes an expectation, but someone has to help pay the bills.’

John McConnell, Partner, Pentagram

‘Pentagram has taken free-pitching to its logical conclusion by offering to do the whole job for free. Organisations such as the CPRE are high-profile social businesses. And like all businesses good quality, well-researched design can directly affect income and competitive position. But the trouble is that these organisations will never truly value design when it’s being given away for nothing.’

Charlotte Desorgher, Managing director, The Grand Design

‘The problem with pro bono work is that it is usually done on the basis that it gives creatives more opportunity to produce award-winning work. The danger is that we end up treating clients differently – those that don’t pay and allow us to do great work, and those that pay and often get in the way of great work. It’s the paying clients that deserve our best effort – they are the ones that keep us in business. Pro bono work should be done on the basis that we give something back, not as the only way we are ever able to get great design work through.’

Cheryl Giovannoni, Managing director, Coley Porter Bell

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