When Greenpeace’s new International Volunteering Lab team started thinking about our identity and logo, we decided that, in keeping with our mission, it was only right to ask a volunteer to design it, as an example of how awesome and full-of-talent our volunteering community is!
So we reached out and found Thoas, after a quick search for graphic designers in the greenwire.nl volunteer community.
Thoas is a professional designer and photographer with 13 years experience, ranging from work in a corporate design agency to his current role, running his one-man design studio, thoas.nl, out of his home-office in Amsterdam. He specialises in creating visual identities for small and large businesses and also teaches graphic design in Amsterdam and Groningen.
He has also been a long-time Greenpeace supporter:
“When I was a child, my parents were very interested in Greenpeace, so I was too. Later on I became a donor myself.”
“What really works for me about Greenpeace is that it works on all different levels. The actions part is really nice visually, but I like the way that GP is also involved in politics broadly – it can really make a difference. Like the Detox campaign recently. It’s not just making a pamphlet and raising awareness.”
“I think it was on Twitter a few years ago that I saw the volunteer network, Greenwire. I subscribed to see if I could offer my professional design skills. It’s a nice way that I can give something back.”
Volunteering as ‘donating time’:
“When I got this question about being asked to design the Vol Lab logo, is exactly the type of project I imagined when I signed up for Greenwire. I’m often approached to do assignments ‘for free’ by friends or acquaintances, which I don’t like to do so much because it rarely works out well for either of us. But for Greenpeace it’s different – I’m not doing this as a favour or a ‘special deal’, it’s a real donation of my time and skills.”
Professional skills-volunteers like Thoas – sometimes called ‘high-value time donors’ – are a special sort of Greenpeace volunteer, engaging in a different way to our stable volunteer groups and networks, who are the driving forces engaged in each of our global campaigns ‘on the high street’ and in visible protest.
Professional volunteering opportunities can offer new people an opportunity to get engaged in a way that suits them:
“Collecting petitions outside a train station, wearing a Greenpeace t-shirt, that’s not the sort of volunteering I personally want to do. But I can do other things to help – when the Rainbow Warrior was in town, I was there, I took some pictures and sent them back to the Greenpeace picture library.”
“I think my activism involves assignments like this. If I knew that there was a really big protest coming up, I’d go down there with my camera. I would try to make the combination of activism with what I do every day.”
A few hours of a designers’ time might be equivalent to a year’s financial contributions from a regular monthly donor. However, the value of ‘time donations’ is much harder to measure, track and report than financial contributions. It is unknown what the value of ‘donated skills’ are to Greenpeace annually. This is one of many challenges that the Vol Lab will set out to address in the next two years.
Aside from graphics and web design, there are many professionals that Greenpeace has engaged as volunteers – project managers, trainers, writers, social media specialists, and even scientists, lawyers, mathematicians, programmers and analysts. Engaging these professionals ‘as professionals’ requires volunteer organizers to have good data and personal profiles of each volunteer, so that projects can easily be matched with the right people, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
Being the change…
Thoas is also taking action in his own way, in both the personal and professional spheres of his life:
“I only eat organic foods, don’t like all the chemical and freaky stuff in the food business. I’m not a vegetarian but I don’t eat much meat, and I really try to conserve electricity and heat.”
“I try to be as sustainable as possible in my profession. As a designer I always advise my clients to print their stationary on FSC paper, or even fully recycled paper. I offer the idea that they can choose a digital mailing instead of paper. By working from home, I don’t travel a lot so my carbon footprint is pretty small.”