Shillington Graduate Cari Sekunder on Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress

The U.S election has inspired unprecedented levels of giving from concerned Americans seeking to protect the parts of this country they value most. For every person who has donated, there’s another who wants to give but doesn’t know where to start.

That’s why Shillington New York graduate Cari Sekunder and her partner Laura, with six years of experience in philanthropy, joined forced to create Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress.

We chatted with Cari and Laura about their new charitable venture that they just launched, which is the perfect timing if you’re stuck what to buy loved ones for the holidays. Why not consider donating to a deserving cause instead?

Tell us about Mo’ Money. What’s it all about and why did you create it?

Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress was born of a desire to mobilize progressives to take action. After the election, my partner Laura Zax and I knew we weren’t alone in asking ourselves what we could do to protect the parts of our society we value most. So we decided to merge her background in philanthropy with mine in graphic design to create this platform.

Our first initiative is a holiday gift guide that makes it easy for people to donate in lieu of (or in addition to!) giving gifts this year.

The organizations we’ve featured are ones you may not have heard of, but they’re all doing critical work — whether at the grassroots, within the legal system, or at the level of policy and advocacy. And they all need our support now more than ever.

Can you talk us through your creative process for this philanthropic cause?

My creative process for this project was—and had to be—quick. The election happened; we had this idea; we needed to launch it before gifting season. This sense of urgency didn’t leave much time for exploration. I knew I wanted to make something that felt powerful, but playful and to use illustration to make the messaging engaging.

I had a vision of a dollar bill GIF where George Washington’s likeness was replaced by each cause we are representing, and I went for it.

I created the dollar bill and a series of illustrations to represent our causes. Then I reviewed them with my friend/colleague Heidi Chisholm, a talented illustrator. She then created some of the more detailed illustrations, like the figures representing the Racial Justice and Friend of Islam categories and some of the more complex patterns. I then tweaked them to fit within the style I had created, so that the overall system felt cohesive.

I did a volunteer project a few months back for a cause where I wanted to convey a similar feeling– of power and activism, and had discovered the typeface I’m using, Rubik, through that project. I was able to recycle the font research I’d already done and use it for this project that needed to go up quickly.

For the colors, we wanted something that felt like Christmas/Holiday, but wasn’t overly literal. We went through a few iterations trying a dominantly pink one first (not holiday enough), and then a royal blue one (too corporate), and ultimately landed where we are with seafoam green, red, dark yellow and black.

 

What has been the biggest challenge during the project?

One big challenge with Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress has been time constraints. Laura and I both work full-time, so this has been a classic nights-and-weekends labor of love.

But the very biggest challenge has been getting people to donate. People have been so willing and eager to share the site—it’s been viewed by thousands of people in under two weeks—but that has translated to fewer donations than we had anticipated, especially given the overwhelming positive response we receive at every turn. It’s just plain hard to get people to give away their money.

What do you want to get out of the project?

Because of my partner’s background in philanthropy, people were coming to her to ask for organization recommendations in the wake of the election. After the election, we wanted to do something. So we created this platform to give people a fun and vetted way to contribute this holiday season and beyond. After the holidays, we are going to expand the platform beyond donations. Stay tuned!

Why is the role of a creative important in addressing social issues?

Visual communicators, artists, musicians and all creatives have the opportunity and responsibility to use our skills to move people to take action.

Our ability to make confusing information engaging and easy to understand is essential. Clear, thoughtfully communicated information is extremely valuable, especially in times where anxieties are running high and the floodgates of information overload are open.

Do you have any go-to resources for creative inspiration?

The first place I always go is Pinterest. I also have a bookmarked folder of design studios and design blogs whose work I admire, for example BP&O and It’s Nice That. On Instagram I follow a lot of design-related accounts like @lazymom and @perkybros and am constantly taken screenshots of images I like.

Do you have a top tip for a just graduated Shillington student?

I can’t understate the importance of being able to communicate and sell one’s design ideas well. It’s the hardest part about being a designer, but ultimately this is a trade where our success is dependent upon pleasing the people paying us for our work (whether that’s clients, or colleagues in-house at a brand). I’m still working on this skill myself, but it’s been helpful for me to really pay attention to how people with more experience than me handle communications and learn from them.

Big thanks to Cari! Be sure to check out Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress.