How It All Began
At the beginning of 2020, when Avi met his old friend Ashok, who had recently moved to Toronto after successfully selling his start-up in Singapore, they got talking about a challenge Avi was facing.
In his own experience, Avi found it difficult to come by opportunities where he could serve a non-profit through his skills. Since Avi is a designer by profession (and passion!), it made sense to start something for the design community. With his previous experience working pro-bono with charities in India and being on the board of one here in Toronto, he knew that there's definitely potential in the idea.
Just as they were on the verge of completing a survey that validated their hypothesis, Canada went into a lockdown due to COVID-19 and the world as we knew it changed for the foreseeable future.
COVID-19 had a devastating effect on organizations driving positive social and environmental change. At a point, 1 in 10 was using personal funds to keep their organizations afloat. This acted as a catalyst to launch an initiative to help non-profits.
In June 2020, PAY IT FWD was launched on Slack where a community of volunteers could pick up design projects posted by charities and work on them for free. As of today, we are a community of over 450 members consisting of designers with different skills and non-profits supporting various causes. We have completed multiple design, video and content-related projects for the non-profits and continue to work on more every week.
We have recently embarked on more strategic design projects. The first one that we’re most excited about is our partnership with Studio.89 (a non-profit that aims to provide an online opportunity for youth within the Peel Region) to create and teach a Graphic Design course so the youth can create their own digitized art, and embark into the professional Art World. The designers will spend time at PAY IT FWD and work on active projects helping the non-profits in the community- truly carrying forward our philosophy of Paying it Forward.
The second initiative is that of Ambassadors- a group of motivated expert designers who are available to consult with non-profit organizations for design strategies that go beyond task-based projects.
Last year was a start when we validated the idea and kick-started the movement. We have ambitious goals for 2022 to grow the community membership, execute more projects and become the go-to platform for designers to do good with their design.