Changemaker Series FAQ

General FAQs

Q: Why are you doing this series?

Local creative professionals are always looking for ways to use their unique talents to positively impact social and community issues. The design tools that we use in our daily creative practice can have a large impact when put to use towards aiding important social challenges.

Q: How does this whole thing work?

We pair a small team of creatives with a social Change Organization “client” who participate in our Weekend Workshop where they’ll get a crash course in design thinking, team building and learn about their client’s needs. They’ll work closely together over the summer to come up with creative solutions to the client’s more challenging problems. The process is more collaborative than the typical designer-client relationship.

Q: Is this another hackathon?

Not really. The premise is similar to a hackathon in that teams are assembled to work with a nonprofit. However, the skills being applied in Changemaker are more design-focused and our time frame runs longer than the typical hackathon. In our intensive Weekend Workshop, team members will acquire new skills, gain insights, and identify the challenges they will then ideate on over the next 3 months to arrive at real useable solutions.

Q: How long does this program last?

The Changemaker series will begin in February and end in October, with the project work taking place from June – September. Dates will be confirmed as 2021 planning continues.

  • March: Applications open and series cause announced at the Changemaker Happy Hour event
  • April: Applications for nonprofits/social Change Organizations due
  • April: Applications for volunteer creative team members due
  • June: Weekend Workshop
  • Summer: Conducting project work and check-ins
  • Late September/October: Showcase to celebrate project results

Q: How do I participate in this? How do I sign up?

We ask that everyone wanting to participate fill out an application using the links listed below. Creative professionals and Change Organizations wanting to work on one of our teams must attend the Weekend Workshop and Showcase and must be able to commit to several hours a week to work on their team’s project.

Applications for creative team members and change organizations are coming soon.

Q: What is the time commitment to be involved in the Changemaker Series?

Project team members and social Change Organization clients must be available from June through September. Attendance at the Weekend Workshop will be mandatory for the teams and organization clients. We will host check-ins between June and September.

Time commitment will depend on the size, scope, complexity and components of each project as well as your project role. After the weekend workshop, ongoing project work each week may vary. Project team members should expect project weekly meetings and at least 2-3 hours of work each week with an average of 6-8 hours a week. Clients from social Change Organizations should expect at least 1-2 hours of work each week with an average of 2-4 hours a week.

Q: What tools do project teams use to communicate and stay on track?

We send major announcements through email, use Slack for messaging and updates and Google Drive to post and share documents. Project teams are free to choose other platforms and tools they wish in addition to these tools.

Q: How do you come up with your causes?

The Changemaker Committee selects the Changemaker Series cause with input from our advisory panel and AIGA Austin board members. The committee narrows down causes and ultimately selects one from the list that is timely, relevant, and scoped enough to be able to tell stories and raise awareness to the cause and to the local organizations supporting it. The committee also picks a cause that has a wide range of organizations supporting it so there are enough organizations to partner with, rather than too narrow a cause that might only have a couple of organizations or only a couple of governmental entities supporting the cause.

There are other AIGA Austin initiatives so the group selects causes that aren’t being served by other initiatives.

If you are passionate about another cause, please stay involved. Join the committee, be a participant or attend the Changemaker Showcase, advocate for it and nominate it for next year.

Potential Creative Team Member FAQs

Want to volunteer to be a team member? Have questions?

Q: I don’t consider myself a creative or designer. What skills are you looking for?

We encourage people with all kinds of skills to apply to join a team. This includes, but is not limited to: designers, researchers, project managers, marketers, strategists, content writers and developers. Identify your skills and abilities in the application so we can match you to the best team and project.

Q: What level of experience are you looking for? Is it okay if I’m a student?

We are looking for project team members from a variety of backgrounds. Everyone from advanced students to professionals with decades of experience are welcome to share their talents. You will be able to indicate your experience level on the Superpower Survey so we can create balanced teams.

Q: I’m a pro, and am very familiar with design thinking. Can I skip the workshop?

The Weekend Workshop is mandatory. You’ll be getting to know your team and your change org “client”, learning about their challenges and starting to build the foundation for your summer project. While you may be familiar with these concepts, your change org client may not and you can use your knowledge to teach them.

Q: Is this going to be a good project for my portfolio? …good for networking?

While we encourage participants to show off the work they do in the series in their portfolios, if you’re looking to design a logo or website to round out your book, this probably isn’t the right program for you.

Q: Is this purely volunteer based or is there compensation involved?

We ask that team members volunteer their time to give back to the local community. As such, please be candid in sharing your availability. This is more than pro bono work; it is like a long-term hackathon that provides real deliverables to organizations serving the community. This is more than building your portfolio or adding to a resume; it is an opportunity for networking and community-building across disciplines and with nonprofits and social Change Organizations. It’s also a great way to meet new people, give back and form friendships.

Q: I can’t commit to a project. Is there another way I can give back?

Of course! Spread the word about this initiative. Share our information with your office, or professional groups and encourage your peers to apply. Attend our Changemaker Happy Hour and the Showcase to show your support and celebrate the team’s accomplishments, and bring friends!

Have some time or resources you can contribute this summer? Fill out our application and let us know how you can help. You can also contact us about volunteering for an event and get involved in other ways AIGA Austin is using design for good.

Get involved in other AIGA Austin events and initiatives such as Design Ranch, Small Talks, Creative Mass, and more.

Nonprofit & Change Organizations FAQs

Does your nonprofit or organization need help? Have questions?

Q: What are the criteria for the nonprofit or organization?

This program is for nonprofits and social Change Organizations that serve the greater Austin and Texas Hill Country region.

Q: Our organization needs a logo or a website. Can you help with that?

While a new logo or website might be what first spring to mind when considering working with designers, the goal of Changemaker is to use design thinking collaboratively to identify deeper challenges that can be addressed to help your organization fulfill its mission goals.

Q: What sort of problems or challenges should I bring?

Bring a challenge your organization is facing that needs good design planning and may result in deliverables or milestones that are achievable within four months of work. Please note that a key milestone or stepping stone to your organization’s ongoing work may be considered a deliverable. Examples may be, but are not limited to: aligning brand perception; improving the ways you communicate with the community; raising awareness to programs and resources; and better understanding your user experience journey. We want you to be successful so we’ll be looking for real challenges you are facing that design thinking can solve. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what design thinking is; we will define and demonstrate all applicable processes and tools throughout the series.

Previous examples of ‘How might we’ statements include:

Foundation for the Homeless – How might we provide volunteer services to our client families while respecting their confidentiality?

LifeWorks Austin – How might we increase philanthropic efforts around ending youth homelessness using effective communication tools to engage our audience?

Texas Appleseed – How might we increase awareness of teen homelessness among the public and policy makers to motivate them towards creating lasting solutions?

Q: What is the time commitment from me?

We ask that representative(s) from each organization attend the full Weekend Workshop and the Showcase. Representatives are welcome to attend our cause announcement happy hour and informational event or other AIGA Austin events, but those are not mandatory.

In addition, you will need to support your project team as a client; be available to answer questions, provide research, insights, limitations, guidance and requirements for your challenge, share additional information, facilitate required introductions and help educate the team on your mission.

Q: How should I prepare?

Prior to the Weekend Workshop, please prepare a slide and 2 minute elevator pitch presentation to inform participants of your organization’s mission and challenge. Detailed information will be provided to you in advance to help your organization prepare.

Any additional insights you would like to share with your team on the organization’s mission, clients, services, highlights and challenges would be appreciated to bring with you to the Weekend Workshop.

Q: How can I make sure my team’s project is successful?

Be candid about the abilities and bandwidth of your organization. Provide information and resources to educate your team. Commit to attending meetings and work sessions.

« Back to Changemaker


Applications for 2021 the Changemaker Series Committee are closed.

Sign-up for our email list to stay up-to-date on AIGA Austin’s Changemaker Series!