Centrepoint's direct mail design competition: is it exploitation?

It's very easy to be glib about saying no when asked to design something for a charity for free – sticking to the clear paths laid out by Jessica Hische's 'Should I Work For Free' flowchart. But if it's a cause you care about and with the knowledge that in 'austerity Britain' charities have less money coming in than in profilgate years, is it ok?

The question is prompted by a new 'competition' for the Centrepoint charity, which does great work supporting homeless people in London. You design a direct mail flyer to promote the charity's Give as You Live campaign. A team of judges including creatives from BBH, Wunderman and Karmarama pick the best, which gets printed by Printed.com – who are donating printing and distribution of 5,000 flyers. The company also appears to be donating up £10,000 to the charity though the campaign.

All the usual warning bells are there. It's a competition, but the prize is 'exposure' – and it's something that Centrepoint could have paid a designer to do.

But it is for a very worthy cause.

I've spent the morning wondering whether we should help promote this, or ignore this an just another attempt to exploit designers with the false promise of 'exposure'. But instead, I thought I'd ask you what you thought.

So let me know what you think in the comments below. And if you do want to enter, you can get more details on Printed.com's Facebook page.


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