What’s Missing in Social Impact Design

[Note: I’m thinking about giving something away. For free. It’s going to take significant time to put together. Before I go crazy making this thing, I want to make sure you actually want it (so I don’t feel like an idiot.) More details at the bottom of the article.]

[Note #2: In case you’re wondering, this post is a follow up to this post. I try my best to respond to as many comments as possible, BTW!]

So in my second to last post, I said I’d write about…

that BIG REQUEST you’ve been asking for years now.

Funny enough, that request is EXACTLY what I was searching for five years ago when I decided to leave my full-time, comfortably paid role in an architecture firm and jump into full-time social impact design work.

That request is… [drumroll]… for the nitty gritty details on how to make a financially sustainable career in social impact design.

No surprise, right?

Well, here’s the kicker.

There is a TON of information in the form of books, events, conferences, university programs, and courses on how to do social impact design projects. And this is ESSENTIAL information. Trust me, I’ve read so much of it and incorporated it into my design approach.

But there is very little on how to turn these projects into full-time, paid work.

The passion is there. (Architecture in Development alone has 40,000 eager people wanting to contribute in some capacity!)

The gap is there. (Designers aren’t working with 90% of the world’s population.)

The missing piece to the social impact design puzzle is personalized, in-depth business training to fuel sustainable careers. No more designers as bad business people—improving those skills is exactly what we need to make meaningful impact.

How I’ve Made a Career Path—And How It Can Be Easier for You

I’ve dedicated countless hours to researching, creating, testing, piloting, failing, and improving ways to practice social impact design. Along with using knowledge from within the profession, I’ve used methods from analogous professions where business acumen is central.

But it can much simpler. Let’s use an example near and (maybe not so) dear to us to illustrate my point.

Imagine that sinking feeling in your belly when the drawing (or model, or document) you’ve put hours into all of the sudden crashes. The emptiness travels from your mouth to your intestines as you take in what just happened. “Oh no! I forgot to save!” you scream when the program error pops up.

You’re deflated. You’re head tilts back. You bury your face in your hands. You have to get up from your seat because you just can’t look at your computer any more.

After a long break to compose yourself (and vent to someone), you open up the file and recreate what you just did. But this time around it comes quicker. Your mind runs through the thought process at what seems to be rapid speed. In a quarter of the time (or less) you’ve created a near replica of the hours of work you put in before.

That is what I’m hoping to provide you – a simpler, streamlined framework that compiles my years of work in the field so you can do the work you want to do and make the positive impact you want to have in much less time than it took me (and hopefully with many less headaches.) We can skip the reinventing the wheel and go straight into business building.

A quick note: I’m in no way trying to eliminate the complexities of the work. That will never–or should–go away. This is about sharpening those much-needed business skills that designers aren’t exposed to early enough.

This is What I’m Thinking of Making

I’ve been really humbled by the responses to my survey. The hours I’ve spent reading your insights has shown the honesty, candor and humility that I appreciate and respect so much in this field.

To test the waters, I’m thinking about making a “Becoming a Social Impact Designer Resource Kit” for you–for free.

Here’s what it will include:

  • My story on how I got started, the ways I’ve contributed to the field over the years, and the business model I’ve used to fund my work.
  • A set of tried and tested tools that I’ve used to help me envision, communicate, fund and evaluate my work.
  • A list of my favorite non-design/non-architecture resources to challenge conventional practice.

But There Is a Catch

Because this is going to take a significant chunk of time and its bound to turn into a much bigger package than I imagine…

… I want to get a list of everyone who is seriously interested in shifting to full-time social impact work and having this free resource kit.

So Here’s What I Want You to Do

If you’re interested then enter your email address below, and if I end up making it, I’ll send it to you at the email you provide. (And if you didn’t get a chance to respond to the survey, leaving a comment with any suggestions on what you’d like to get from the kit would be a huge help.)

If you and enough people sign up to this “interest list” (I’m thinking 100 or more) then I’ll make this free thing and send it to everyone on the interest list.

If no one wants the free “Becoming a Social Impact Designer Resource Kit” then no worries. I always find something to do with my time (that’s what happens when you have a dad who shows you how to tinker.)

In your service,


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3 Responses to What’s Missing in Social Impact Design

  1. Akmal says:

    Thank you for even considering. I sure hope I get to read it! Good luck!

  2. Katie says:

    Thanks, Akmal!

  3. […] coffee number two (or is it three?) of the day, I decided to check on the email and blog I sent two days ago about making a free thing. I shut my eyes when I clicked on the list number and […]

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