Designer or art school grad?

Are you a designer or an art school grad?

There’s an important difference.

An art school grad has up-to-date design knowledge, a lot of ambition, and (one hopes) design talent. But an art school grad isn’t quite yet a designer, because they’re not yet fully formed. Or, to put a more positive spin on it, the grad is full of promise and possible direction.

In fact, the grad may be the next Jackson Pollack or Wassily Kandinksy of web design. If so, congratulations to them. I look forward to viewing their masterpieces.

But I don’t want that person designing websites for me! They’re going to go all Kandinksy on me. They’re going to use my fundraising projects as platforms for their self-expression and exploration of who they really are.

The designer, the one who gets the job done with precision and excellence, is focused, dedicated, and obsessed with donors and motivating them to act. And they’ll do what it takes to accomplish that, even if it doesn’t express the deep wells of feeling in their innermost soul.

The designer has moved beyond that who-am-I stage and is a fully-formed expert in design who knows that designing successful fundraising is what he or she wants to do. It’s not as glamorous as their dreams, but it’s a great way to meaningfully make the world better. And it probably pays better.

Some art school grads are designers the day they walk out the art school doors. Others take awhile to make the transition. Some never do.

If you’re a design student or a designer early in your career, and you think fundraising may be your path, commit yourself to design that’s solidly aimed at other people. Older people who don’t think the way you think. When you can do that — and love it — you are a designer.

And I want to get to know you, as do many others.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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