Editor’s Desk: Giving Back

How Charitable Giving Can Impact You, Your Firm, & Your Community

Giving back doesn’t have to be something that’s only attainable once you’ve reached a certain point in your profession.  The journey through your career should be aligned with an emphasis on giving back.  Charitable giving, particularly working in close contact with your community, can give a professional designer a well-rounded lens.  Plus, it can allow an architect to draw from a range of diverse experiences when designing different projects throughout their career.  It’s ultimately up to you how much of a core principle you want to make charitable giving within your firm.  You might be surprised to find, however, that many up-and-coming architects, as well as your clients, are making career and hiring decisions based on a firm’s philanthropy.  There are several ways to incorporate and elevate your altruism, both as an architect and a firm owner.  Pro bono work is a wonderful way to donate your time.  Not only does it connect your office with the community, but it can also boost morale for your staff members.  Pro bono work can run the gamut from assessing locations to offering second opinions on blueprints, and much more. 

         Create a dedicated committee that analyzes and organizes your company’s charitable giving.  If you’re looking to get involved on a larger scale, you can consider creating your own foundation.  Until that’s an option, however, look at funding a local charity.  If your bandwidth allows it, you can get involved in a local charity as an advisor or board member.

         In my hometown of Reno, Nevada, the non-profit Community Foundation of Northern Nevada recently brought together city officials, builders, philanthropists, and volunteers to address the community’s lack of affordable housing.  By tapping into professional advisors, such as architects and designers like our readers, the organization was able to install The Village on Sage Street, an innovative housing option for low-income individuals in Reno.

         Freedom by Design™, 400 FORWARD, Beyond the Built Environment, Design Corps, Building Trust, and Habitat for Humanity® are just a few of the many charitable organizations that rely on the stewardship and volunteerism of architects, designers, and firms.  There are several non-profits that serve as intermediaries between architects and the communities that can benefit from their technical skills.  The Architects Foundation is a non-profit, philanthropic partner of The American Institute of Architects that harnesses the power of design to solve problems, transform lives, and create a better world. 

         There are many different ways to give back as an architect, whether it be at a macro level or more finely tuned to your community.  Evaluate your firm’s goals, engage your staff, and figure out which direction you’d like to go.  The world depends on it.

Marcus Dodson

editor & publisher

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