To keep things simple, I will write all the facts in bullet points:

  • I have a 9-5 job while volunteering my services for a non-profit organization as part of the sub-committee board.
  • I am the only graphic designer in the organization.
  • However, the non-profit do get non-member designers volunteering their services for big events.
  • Upcoming big event, I was given the responsibility to design the event visuals.
  • A volunteer (who one of the head committee member has introduced) offers her services to animate the transition slides that I design.
  • I made confirmations with the volunteer and the committee member that she will only animate the design elements I provide without making any changes to it.
  • Sent the volunteer the files and that was that.
  • Later in the day, I messaged her to make sure that the files were working great and just to ask how she was doing.
  • She mentioned that she tweaked my designs.
  • Asked her to show me and what was shown was a completely different design.
  • She mentioned that the head committee member liked and approved it.
  • Keep in mind that her design is completely different from all other visuals for the event, making it inconsistent and that none of this was communicated with me.

My reaction was that this is disrespectful after 2 weeks of non-stop designing after coming back from work. The designs I did was within the guidelines that were given to me while the volunteer's design is not. I was/am upset.

ps: The head committee member is a very influential person in the non-profit and the corporate work while I am in my first 3 years of working life.

What is the appropriate action(s) to deal with this, objectively?


Right after I wrote my question here, the head committee member actually messaged me apologizing about the confusion and of what happened. Our conversation was very civil and respectful plus we came up with a solution to prevent anything like this to ever happening again. The volunteer did suggest to the committee member another design but I feel that she just suggested what she personally thought was better for the event.

  • 1
    All good answers below. I would add to them that it doesn't sound like there is a clear channel of communication/responsibility outlined. If not this would be a good opportunity to establish a process/channel. I would be upset too, its completely understandable. I would stress the points that this causes double handling, which wastes everybodys time. And like you said the inconsistency with other visuals.
    – Lex
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 19:42
  • 2
    @objective if any of the below have answered your question please mark them as the accepted answer. If you are still needing further assistance please make an edit to your question.
    – user9447
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 14:55
  • I can feel how it feel. If there don't trust us, then don't ask us to do. Why want to change my design. Everyone had different personalities and ideas. You change my design. It shows that I am useless and stupid. Why want to make me feel stupid.
    – user146030
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 16:05

4 Answers 4


I work as a graphic designer for a church and have run into this sort of things many times over the last 5+ years. Just check your pride, sometimes it hurts when someone else's work gets approval over yours especially when you put your heart into it. But you're not wrong that it isn't their place to make those kind of changes. Speak with your oversight about the change and your concerns about consistency explaining why you did what you did. Ultimately it's their call, and you have to submit to that.

Be sure to address the structure with your oversight. A volunteer doing design work ultimately shouldn't be submitting anything directly to any staff members other than the on staff designers and then the designers submitting that to their oversight. Be respectful, stay humble, but deal with this with your oversight and have them give you the go-ahead to confront the volunteer.

Good Luck!


What is the appropriate action(s) to deal with this, objectively?

There might be a little bit more to this and I will speak from my developmental experiences. That said we do not know if the volunteer was in communication with head committee and knew about the changes and requested them. So depending on the organization atmosphere it will really depend on the course of action to take. Before proceeding I would request what to see or ask what is the designer's brief and if they were told they could modify it as it will play as an issue down the road. If you do find out that the head member did inform the designer I would ask who has final approval of the design if you're unaware.

If there is a group that approves it I would start communicating by making them aware of what has occurred and see what their opinion is of the situation. If they agree that this is an issue then proceed with a proper course but do it very carefully as that would play into an organization's politics and relationships can be damaged.

This may sound bad but after the communication they inform you to proceed with the conflict you will need to ask yourself how do you want to weigh the issue. I say that because there will be two outcomes likely:

1) organization is happy with the changes and wants to proceed but it conflicts with your baby and if you proceed with your case up line you will cause issues between the org and that will cause future conflict. Since you bypassed the member that approved it that can cause working relationship issues in the future.

2) You can document your communication and if the team is set on the different designs then let it be a learning instance and see what you can do to prevent this case from occurring in the future. Still, if you bypass the said approval of the head committee member for this project you will likely cause a relationship conflict.

That said, before you take action you need to weigh the project with your relationship with the member and the organization before proceeding.


She mentioned that the head committee member liked and approved it.

Why she did not knew she needed to address you in the first place? Make things clear, define the proper channels. She skipped you, let us assume she is just a noob, so the responsable to make things clear is you.

If you are not recognized as the head of the department talk to the organization people, and explain that if they want the proper image then they need the proper process. That includes respecting the proper channels.

Keep in mind that her design is completely different...

Why she felt free to propose anything aditional, then different? Was your material clear enough?

There is a chance she used a template, with different predesigned parts. Make sure people feel free to ask you to deliver a more suited material or parts of it.

All this does not mean that was your fault, is theirs, but this way you have control. That is the point.

I was/am upset

Was is a lot better than am.


Don't volunteer, unless it's an amazing cause or you have very good reasons. Volunteering teaches people that the work is not worth payment. Non-profits definitely make a profit.

If you do volunteer, you can probably negotiate the amount of creative control you will have up front. They want you for free, so you can trade the freedom to have final sign-off on the design. That way, you won't even need the client's approval! Because you'd be the one approving the design. Clients would probably agree to a simple "approve/reject" structure where the client can view it at the end and either take it or not, without any room for other people making changes.

Also, at the end of the day, you can use your own versions of things in your portfolio. Print design doesn't matter anymore, it's all online. So design things the way you want, and put that in your portfolio for future jobs.

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