Giving Back: Pro Bono Projects and Designing for Nonprofits

Designing for nonprofits

When designers apply their skills and experience to pressing social and environmental issues, everyone wins. That’s why Fuzzy Math is proud to partner with mission-driven organizations to design solutions and spark change.  

Nonprofit UX design begins with people. That’s why we apply the same UX design services to our work with mission-driven organizations, helping them deepen their understanding of their customer base and increase their capacity to better achieve their missions. 

Each of our nonprofit and pro bono projects is a partnership between Fuzzy Math and the client organization. Pro bono projects are real projects, with the same care and dedication put towards understanding users’ needs and our partners’ goals. The end result is a solution that’s both useful and impactful, and a client that feels that they are a vital part of the process.

How we choose pro bono partnerships 

We make it a priority to take on a pro bono engagement once a year, choosing projects and causes that we care about, such as (but not limited to!) mental health advocacy, education, public transit, social services, philanthropy, and public parks. 

But how do we choose the projects that we take on? 

1. We believe in the company’s mission.

We’re a passionate bunch, and we have strong opinions. In fact, “Do good work, be good people” is one of our guiding principles. We prioritize pro bono engagements that align with our values: organizations that are inclusive, progressive, and supportive of underserved or marginalized populations.

To paraphrase Leslie Knope: “Let’s spend our time on what matters: mental health, art, youth mentorship, parks, and schools.” (Just to name a few.)

2. Our work will make a difference

Sometimes the cause is great, but the company has resources doing great design work already. In those cases, it doesn’t make sense for us to butt in with another voice advocating for design. Instead, we focus our efforts on organizations and companies where our efforts can affect a positive change. 

Take, for example, our work with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), an organization that both provides educational resources and facilitates support groups for individuals living with mood disorders. Prior to our project, all of DBSA’s invaluable information was buried under a confusing navigational structure that made that same information inaccessible for the average user. Luckily, restructuring content is the role of information architecture in UX design. After working closely with DBSA on a content audit that informed an overhaul of their site structure, our redesign allowed users to find pertinent information and access the help they needed in a straightforward way.

Learn more about our work with DBSA

3. The engagement is exciting

Nonprofit and pro bono work gives Fuzzy Math designers a chance to stretch (and flex) our creative muscles. This year, we’re expanding our search for projects outside of website redesign.  Whether the project is a customer experience, an internal tool, or something new entirely, we’re excited to take on complex environments and questions no one’s asked before.

Other features of a successful Fuzzy Math project include starting with user research. If there is an appetite for a greater understanding of users’ needs, wants, and pain points, your project or organization might be a prime candidate for our pro bono program.

Past pro bono work

We’ve partnered with some incredible mission-driven organizations, big and small, to bring change through human-centered design. Here are just some of the past projects we’ve worked on.

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  • Brookfield Zoo – We designed a mobile experience for the Brookfield Zoo that sought to enhance the visitor experience, simplify the admission process, and provide an opportunity to learn about the animals.
  • Be Alright Chicago – We rebranded and redesigned the website and newsletter for a local domestic violence nonprofit organization, using UX and UI best practices to drive meaningful engagement.
  • Chicago Architecture Foundation – We worked directly with CAF to craft a strategy for expanding a design education platform targeted at high school, Discover Design. Read the Case Study
  • Center for Neighborhood Technology – We assisted CNT with the redesign of a set of digital tools that help “planners, developers, and community leaders make smart, data-driven decisions.”
  • Big Marsh – Once used as a dumping ground for steel manufacturers, Big Marsh Park is 278 acres of wide-open space and bike paths on Chicago’s south side. Our website redesign provides visitors with the necessary information to access and enjoy the park and provides Big Marsh with the visibility needed to support future developments in revitalizing the area.
  • VING Project – The VING Project works to inspire teens to become the next generation of givers. We redesigned their website to help them spread their giving challenge: “Teens, if you had $1,000 to give to a person in need, who would you give it to?”
  • UCAN Chicago – Fuzzy Math conducted a pro bono website redesign for UCAN Chicago, a nonprofit organization aiding at-risk youth. See how we applied our process to help surface vital information and generate online donations. Read the Case Study
  • Active Transportation Alliance – As strong supporters of ActiveTrans’s mission to create a “transportation environment in Chicagoland that values safety, health, sustainability and choice” we were thrilled to redesign their public-facing website.

Recommend a cause or opportunity

Know of an opportunity for us to help empower a mission-driven organization?

Recommend a Pro Bono Partner

Whether you’re suggesting your own organization or a great cause you’ve heard about elsewhere, we’re all ears. Please include a brief overview of the organization, project needs, and any initial project goals.

Don’t know exactly what you need, but still want to work with Fuzzy Math? Drop us a line anyway! We’d love to learn more about you, the organization, and any ways we can help.

Updated Feb 2023

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