Outsourcing your Not for Profits design projects

By March 25, 2019 No Comments

Not for Profits and charities outsourcing design projects is an ongoing dilemma for many organisations. This is because for many Not for Profits and charities (skysdesign included) we view it in the context of giving away a limited resource. This is particularly the case when it comes to design because there are so many free resources available, such as CANVA. However, there are many occasions when outsourcing to a designer is the right solution.
As a social enterprise design agency we are often outsourcing work to specialists who can help us deliver on particular client projects so I have an understanding of the thought processes.
Whilst the decision is an individual one for your Not for Profit or charity there are 6 questions that it is worth asking yourself to gain a clearer picture of what is the right decision. These questions are:

Will it save time?
Will it save money?
Will it make my life easier?
Will I get a new perspective on how to achieve my goals?
Will it enhance my brand?
What are the risks?

Will it save time?

Many organisations don’t have a staff member with a design background. They might have a staff member who can make a document look good in Word and then create a PDF or create something in CANVA but this most definitely is not the same thing.
Also, this is probably not that person’s core responsibility. Perhaps, they take on the task along with other responsibilities or it is deemed part of their role but they’re not skilled in it so it takes them a while to complete the task.
Outsourcing your design work will allow your staff to dedicate their time and efforts to what they are good at and what they are familiar with. This is a much better use of your limited resources. By using a designer they will be faster and more proficient and they will have the design software that makes a job look professional.
For example, we recently had the experience of a client creating a brochure in Adobe Illustrator. Just looking at the brochure on a screen it looked great. But, when we submitted it for printing it was rejected because it had not been set up correctly. It definitely wasn’t our clients’ fault as they thought they had done everything. Unfortunately, Illustrator doesn’t have the full functionality of InDesign which meant that we were asked to resolve the problem. These corrections took as long to implement as it would have taken a designer to create the original document so there was no time saving for the client because they had spent the original time creating the document and the time delay in getting the publication to the printer and leading to my second question….

Will it save money?

The above scenario cost them more. They paid a staff member to create the original artwork and then paid us to correct the artwork.
Outsourcing to a designer is a practical way to use the limited funds of your Not for Profit. By engaging a designer on a project basis you are not adding to your overheads on a long term basis, only for the life of the project. This allows you to spend money elsewhere on potentially more important issues for the charity.
As well as not adding to your limited staffing budget, other cost saving benefits include:

  1. Not having to provide office space, computers or phones;
  2. You don’t have to worry about paying superannuation, Workcover or accruing annual leave entitlements;
  3. You can set the price based on your budget and hire accordingly.

Will it make my life easier?

Hopefully, yes. Hiring outsourced staff is actually much easier than looking for the best fulltime staff. To find an agency or a freelancer that can work for you, all you have to do is ask colleagues who they know or do a google search. The next step is to get in touch and find out what experience they have, what examples of their work they can provide and how much they will charge to complete your project. You don’t have to meet all of your organisations Human Resource requirements related to employment.
Freelance designers need to get good reviews from clients so that they can obtain additional work. This means they are focused on the specific project they are working and they have have a can-do attitude to getting the work completed. But, hopefully, they are also realistic about what is achievable.

Will I get a new perspective on how to achieve my goals?

Outsourcing your design allows you to connect with designers with specific skills in the areas your project requires and potentially a wider range of ideas to achieve better outcomes.
Someone who sits outside of your organisation can bring a different perspective, diverse ideas and potentially better solutions to the communication aspects of your project.
Depending on your organisations values you may be willing to engage with designers who live outside of Australia which will be cheaper and means that you can access a world of skills & resources. But, there are plenty of local providers who can do your job.

Will it enhance my brand?

This is tricky to answer. Does your Not for Profit have a clear brand style and it is documented in a style guide of some form? If it is then your designer has a much greater chance of being successful at enhancing your brand.
Do you have a design brief? If you don’t have one prepared ask your designer to provide one. This will help you explain to the designer exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve and will put them in the picture.
A good designer should be focused on delivering a successful project. The more information you can provide about what your brand is the greater the likelihood that the final result will enhance your brand.

What are the risks?

Outsourcing to an agency or freelancer has risks just like employing somebody does. You still need to make sure that you build a relationship with the designer so that you know how to work with each other. This relationship building can take time and you still need to manage the relationship to make sure that you’re getting the outcomes that you require to the standard you require. However, you have the ability to bring a project to an end and find another designer if you’re unhappy …depending on the contract you have with them, of course.


Outsourcing is common solution to the successful completion of projects without incurring undue financial stress for your organisation. It also allows you to access a broader range of skills and experience than you might be able to employ and you still retain control of the project.
Skysdesign regularly works outsources projects or components of projects so that we can achieve the best outcomes for our clients. We make sure that we have clearly set out expectations before proceeding as nobody wants to waste time or money.
On the flip side, outsourced graphic designers have a reputation to maintain. The better we deliver the more our credibility builds. Our responsibility is to see to it that our clients are happy and satisfied with our work. Otherwise, we go hungry…and as a social enterprise we don’t contribute to St Kilda Community Housing’s social mission.
But as a client you need to be in communication with your outsourced designer to see to it that they are given proper instructions and are on track to deliver successfully.