Pro Bono Work

Pro bono is defined in RGD’s book, The Business of Graphic Design: A Professional’s Handbook, as: “The donation of a person’s time or expertise at no charge generally conducted for charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, educational and other non-profit organizations.”


The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) is pleased to provide this guide for graphic designers to assist in the process of working with non-profit organizations on pro bono communications projects.


Click here to download a PDF of 'A Graphic Designer's Guide to Pro Bono Work'

Significant environmental, social and cultural challenges grip our world. Designers have the ability to contribute their skills and make a difference. One way for designers to help is to offer services free of charge to non-profit, charitable and grassroots organizations. This simple guide outlines some of the benefits and challenges that designers should consider when taking on pro bono projects.


Thank you to RGD's VP of Ethics, Jenn Taback RGD, her team at Design de Plume, and Provisional RGD Mat Chambers for the pdf design (and illustrations).


If you have questions contact Hilary Ashworth, by email at .


RGD, particularly through its Ethics Committee, advocates against contests and the many other situations where designers are asked to provide commercial work on spec. But we realized that there is a need to educate new designers, who are the most vulnerable amongst us, on what spec work is and how to avoid it. Inspired by Jessica Hische's comedic "Should I Work For Free" Flowchart, the Ethics Committee begain work on its own flow chart (based on RGD's Rules of Professional Conduct) of questions designers should ask themselves before deciding if it's appropriate to work for free.


Click here to decide whether to work for FREE, charge a FEE or save yourself some pain and FLEE

"Students are busy preparing for a future career in a world where they will be paid for the work that they do. We want to help them understand when it's totally okay to work for free and when they should expect to be paid," explained Julian Brown RGD, RGD's VP of Ethics and Chair of our Ethics Committee. "And even more importantly, we want to help them respond professionally and constructively no matter what the situation."


RGD asked Nascent Digital to contribute their interactive talents to the initiative. "When RGD approached us about their new "Free, Fee or Flee" initiative, we knew right away it aligned with what Nascent believed in. Education, collaboration and doing the right thing are values that are important to us, and this website provides a tool for new designers to feel supported and be informed. We didn't hesitate to work with RGD on this great initiative!"

- Linda Nakanishi, Design Director at Nascent Digital


We encourage all designers to check out this new tool and share it with fellow designers. And if you have comments or questions about this and other ethical issues, email 

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