The Impact of Design Through Social Good

Sappi North America highlights winning projects of Ideas that Matter program
Oct 8, 2019 3:35 PM ET
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For the past 19 years, Sappi has empowered great ideas by supporting designers that use their time and talent for good. Since the inception of the Ideas that Matter program, Sappi has donated over $13 million in grants to support more than 500 charities. Sappi is giving back by encouraging local initiatives and making a difference in communities around the United States and around the world.

Prosperity Gardens in Champaign, Illinois

The Prosperity Gardens organization provides hands-on, garden-based education and green business employment opportunities for the Champaign-Urbana community. They cater to the city’s low-income residents by growing affordable, nourishing produce from two city-owned lots and a new one-acre urban farm site. By supporting urban neighborhoods trapped in “food deserts,” Prosperity Gardens is dedicated to cultivating healthy communities in all capacities.

Prosperity Gardens has expanded services with the help of Mark Taylor and Natalie Smith from the University of Illinois Department of Art and Design, as well as Eric Benson, CEO of the design firm Re-Nourish. They have designed and developed new signage, packaging, merchandise and experiential items that provide employment opportunities in agricultural sciences and food production for teens seeking a new direction in life.

With the support of Sappi’s Ideas that Matter grant, the design team and Prosperity Gardens produced 400 copies of a recipe book featuring vegetables grown by the community. The engaging design and easily accessible recipes in the book will help community members learn new ways to cook and enjoy seasonal vegetables. In addition, by promoting the use of home composting, the book is helping Prosperity Gardens influence how people shop, cook, and reduce what goes into landfills—supporting Sappi’s mission of sustainability.

ProPublica ‘Factivism’ fundraising project

Despite the ever-changing media landscape, direct mail remains a powerful driver of conversions. ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom, recognized the need to reach new and longtime donors by addressing concerns about fake news and alternative facts. To meet that need, ProPublica created a campaign that was made possible by an Ideas that Matter grant from Sappi North America, allowing them to raise over $500,000. In 2017, the newsroom sent printed pieces by direct mail that implored recipients to keep investigative journalism alive, calling this movement “Factivism.”

ProPublica partnered with Naomi Usher, Creative Director at Studio Usher, to create the stunning direct mail donation campaign—and it worked. ProPublica saw an uptick of 30,000 donors in 2017, and wanted to maintain the momentum. The organization needed to find a way to encourage these donors to continue to give to their efforts in 2018, so they adopted a multi-channel fundraising approach. They decided to use a high-quality direct mail appeal to two important groups of new donors, in conjunction with email and social media where possible. The high-quality coated printing papers and eye-catching design of the direct mail campaign made an emotional impact in a way other marketing simply couldn’t replicate. The results speak for themselves.

Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan

The Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan was transformed into a vibrant community arts hub thanks to the work of Leslie Atzmon, Ryan Malloy, and intermediate graphic design students from the Eastern Michigan University School of Art & Design. Together, these volunteers rebranded the center through environmental graphics, promotional material and fundraising efforts.

Serving a diverse community in the greater Midwest of the United States, the Riverside Arts Center promotes and nurtures dynamic cultural programs through arts education, performing arts, visual and fine arts. By tapping into the creative ideas and outcomes from the Sappi Ideas that Matter grant, they were able to apply for other grants from funders such as Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Buhr Foundation, DTE Energy Foundation, the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs and many others. At the end of 2017, Riverside Art Center had a surplus of $50,000 due to their enhanced fundraising efforts.

Read more from Sappi North America's 2018 Sustainability Report here: tiny.cc/SappiNA_SR18