Such is the momentum that has built up behind design for change that in April the D&AD launched an award named the White Pencil, to be given to the creative idea that “raises awareness or changes behaviour around a pressing social, environmental or health issue”.

Work for the Renmen Project by Jonny Wan

Celebrated in its own right

“We felt it was time that this kind of work was celebrated in its own right, says the D&AD’s president, Simon ‘Sanky’ Sankarayya. “Over the years we have observed the need for offering this form of recognition to charity projects [which are] often overshadowed by big-brand design work… We’re looking for incredible ideas with the power to change people’s behaviour.” The first award, to be made in 2012, will be given to the work that best publicises Peace Day – designated by the British charity Peace One Day as falling on 21 September.

Unlike with other D&AD awards, entrants for the White Pencil will not be categorised according to experience, so students and amateurs will be up against established professionals. “Designers converse on a global scale on a daily basis. It made sense to provide an opportunity for them to compete on a level playing field,” Sanky says.

Renmen editions of Cavey soft toys, by British designer Holly aka A Little Stranger

The White Pencil is just the kind of thing to draw cynics out of the woodwork again. But recognition of work for good causes is usually the last thing on the minds of creatives, says Ben the Illustrator. “No offence to creative folk, but we’re all a bit soft.” He says creatives have a sensitive side they want to indulge, and that charity projects are a good way to do that.

Jon Raffe agrees. “I think it all comes back to the desire to do something [philanthropic],” he says. “It so happens that art is the tool.”

Renmen art by Ben the Illustrator featuring the Hispaniolan trogon, Haiti’s national bird