Connecting with Creatives for Social Good

What do graphic designers need to know about the Compassionate Eye Foundation? In November, CEF seized a plum opportunity to find out at the 2017 RGD DesignThinkers Conference in Toronto.

Accepting an invite from the Association of Registered Graphic Designers, Board member Robyn Sussel and Executive Director Melody Jacobson took part in the packed two-day event and came away with high-praise, positive feedback and a lot of great ideas for CEF.  

DesignThinkers is Canada’s premier conference for visual communicators. For the past 18 years, the inspiring event has set out to explore, educate and drive innovation across a network of national and international creative professionals. More than 1,700 delegates attended the November event, representing a broad spectrum of business sectors that included corporate, health, education, and government, as well as students launching design careers.

It was an ideal setting for face-to-face dialogue with the design community - namely the creative directors, art directors and designers whose job it is to select stock photographs for projects within agencies, design firms and other companies – and to talk about the work of CEF.

“The CEF board has developed a new strategy to reach out to “end users,” said Robyn. “Part of this strategy is building relationships with organizations like RGD who represent designers and the design community.”

Until recently, marketing and communications efforts have relied on promotion of CEF stock images through the Getty Images website. In working to establish a demand for CEF photos and build greater awareness among its end users, CEF is taking important steps on its evolutionary path as a charity.  

Over the two days, Robyn and Melody gained valuable insights on best ways to connect with this vital audience. “Pretty much everyone who came to the table was learning about us for the first time,” noted Melody. “They had zero knowledge about us but began to think about how they could use CEF to link with corporate social responsibility (CSR) in their organizations. They immediately made that link between their work and ours.”

Robyn agreed. “Almost universally designers said that our model was uniquely wonderful, representing a way for them to give back through their work,” she added. “They saw the model as win-win-win — by buying our photos, they could contribute without dipping into their own pockets and without compromising the quality of the photos they’re choosing. By simply making this choice, they saw huge value in contributing to CEF projects in the developing world.”

Delegates were directed to the Compassionate Eye Foundation collection on Getty Images. Most delegates were familiar with Getty, but unaware of their support for organizations like CEF. They felt that this CSR initiative reflected well on Getty.  

Through insights gained from delegates and sponsors, CEF will consider working with vertical markets in the design industry. “We met with several designers from the banking and university sectors who thought that by choosing CEF photos, they would be furthering their organization’s own CSR programs. This is very exciting because it opens a world of potential partnerships for CEF.”

Partnership interest was also expressed from reps within the print industry. “There are some natural alignments that will help CEF grow from an organization with one partner, to an organization with many partners,” said Robyn.

“The Conference was a good first step to getting people to learn about choosing CEF,” noted Melody. With a clearer understanding of what is important for creatives, CEF will refine its pitch to the design community for 2018. CEF also plans to reach out locally through the DesignThinkers Conference in Vancouver on May 29 and 30, 2018.

To watch sessions from the DesignThinkers conference, visit the RGD YouTube channel.

EditorialMarianne J. Dupre