DFAD: Both Sides of the Coin

Written by Mark Brunetz, National Spokesperson, DFAD

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

Historians are not exactly sure who said that, but it has a Shakespearean ring to it that sums up the experience anyone who has truly given of themselves knows firsthand. Design For A Difference was conceived as a cause marketing partnership where both parties, the ‘for-profit’ company and the ‘not-for-profit’ entity would experience gains. So, before all of us here at the International Design Guild (IDG) launched the initiative, we asked ourselves a simple question…

What would be possible if we as an organization of highly skilled business professionals, family members and community advocates, which make up IDG, partnered with non-profit organizations of our choosing? In other words, how can we activate the flow of giving and receiving in a way that reaps a better today and builds a more promising tomorrow? For our businesses, the non-profit organizations, our family & friends, and our communities.

For anyone who has rolled up their sleeves and engaged in a DFAD project or any community-based project of similar nature, the answer is simple. Participate. It sounds so fundamental, but surprisingly, this action step is often overlooked or even misunderstood, with good reason. Many of us, including myself, believe at times that making a contribution was liking a post on Facebook, paying annual membership dues or writing a check to charity. After all, isn’t that what giving is all about? The transfer of goods to another party.

Let me be the first to say, the focus of Design For A Difference has been on nothing but giving since day one. But there are two sides of the coin.

Much like our inability to see the entire planet at once (yes, even from outer space), the act of giving itself has as a whole other side to it. And the only way to gain the full experience of it is to be willing to change our point of view, our position, our outlook. It is the act of doing that becomes the access point and game changer.

Don’t get me wrong. It feels good to donate unwanted items to a deserving charity or write a $100 check to a worthy cause. But in all the times I did, that feel good moment was fleeting. And looking back, I wanted my contribution to be less about a moment and more about a movement. A movement towards the steady flow of resources and benefits for everyone. A win-win-win for all parties involved including myself.

From the outside, it would appear that the giving behind DFAD is about what we provide to the non-profits we serve. The countless and courageous staff, the vulnerable and humbled clients we call neighbors, and above all, the community at-large who gets lifted by an intangible force called being in service of. But that’s only half of the story.

What is the truth behind giving?

It’s easy to talk anecdotally about what IDG members, designers and volunteers who have participated in DFAD have told us about the act of giving. For example:

• Discovering how to speak more effectively to your staff in a way you never could before
• Realizing that you proudly walk in your father’s shoes and carry on his legacy every day despite him no longer being with us
• Having the confidence and clarity to change your career after 20 years in the same business
• Being willing to stand up and accept acknowledgment, respect and admiration from your community, just as you have given to so many others
• And yes, increased revenue

The list goes on and on. In fact, at any given time, we could pick up the phone and ask anyone who has participated in DFAD, what did they get out of it? What was given to them? What’s different about their lives today as a result of experiencing both sides of giving? The answers may surprise us.

If the circumstances of the past year have taught us anything, it’s that we refuse to be counted out. And while some of us will never get the opportunity to stand back up, if you are reading this, you are among the fortunate. We are among the fortunate.

And with that, here’s a special invitation. I ask that we all take a moment to give thanks. Thanks to all that is good in the world. Thanks to all the people in our lives; past and present. And, above all, thanks to us for finding and continuing to find the strength to persevere, when at times, the well seemed very, very dry.

From a place of gratitude, it is my hope that we continue to see the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth behind giving. And that we, as leaders in our industry and leaders in our lives, get to experience the inexhaustible benefits of both sides of the coin.


About Mark Brunetz

Mark Brunetz is the National Spokesperson for Design for a Difference.

He is a well-known interior designer who is dedicated and passionate about not only creating stunning designs that suit his client’s needs, but also giving back to the community.