How does one make design for social change sustainable and scalable? To build a replicable model and an enduring momentum?
As someone who’s worked with non-profits for many years, I’ve occasionally thought about perhaps starting one of my own as a way of institutionalizing some of my activism and work, ideas, research and outreach.
You might be surprised to learn that the largest charity in the world is not run by Bill and Melinda Gates, but is one that promotes and supports innovation in the field of architectural and interior design. That’s the Stichting INGKA Foundation, the Dutch Foundation that owns IKEA.
I have more modest ambitions and checking out the prior art, I found there’s no shortage of design-driven non-profit organizations. A search on GuideStar, a database of non-profit organizations, turns up over 5,000 search results matching the term “design.” In my survey of design-centric non-profit organizations here are some I thought were notable. This list is not exhaustive (for instance, it does not include some amazing educational institutions, museums, or documentary projects) and the examples here are all US-based, but take a look.
Get ready! The United Nations General Assembly just declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. A cooperative is an organization owned and governed by its workers or members. The Assembly noted that cooperatives impact poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. The brief press release includes some amazing statistics: agricultural cooperatives account for 80 to 99 per cent of milk production in Norway, New Zealand and the United States; 71 per cent of fishery production in the Republic of Korea; and 40 per cent of agriculture in Brazil.
In case you missed it, check out my article on design cooperatives that ran in the September 2005 Communication Arts.