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Backgrounds for 19

Zoom and other video conferencing platforms raise donations, by licensing + selling artwork from the design + illustration community.

Photo of Jonathan Hung
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In recent weeks, the surge of work from home has brought about a trend of using creative background images to create an air of professionalism, disguise messy rooms, incite fantasy or simply inspire some laughs, people everywhere have recently been adorning their living spaces with creative background images. 

BGfor19 is curating a collection of uniquely illustrated backgrounds that will be available for purchase on our site at a pay-what-you-want basis, with all proceeds going to support those affected by COVID-19. Our initial list of charities include Safety Net Fund (helping struggling artists), Masks for Docs, and other charities.

What is the need are you focusing on?

Artists getting paid (instead of stealing copyright from google image), remote workers needing joy + entertainment, and distribution of funds to the most needy. 

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Identifying a gap that needs to be addressed

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

Zoom, Teladoc, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Messenger, Skype should all partner with artists to create a "pay what you want" digital store. Our team is founding a (soon to be registered) non-profit to address this idea. We are reaching out to artists in the upcoming weeks to build out this platform of artists who care and are doing something to raise funds to support those who need.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • I plan to share with an implementing organization

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

In the short term, many aid organizations and crowd-funding campaigns have come to support communities in need. Safety net fund has raised $40000 with the support of DJs hosting parties on zoom, as one example. We hope to match this model, but believe an integration into an application like zoom, wechat, messenger, etc will exceed those numbers. Stickers through LINE, for example, create annual revenues of up to 500k. As this crisis evolves and other communities are affected, we hope to shift donations to those who are most needy. We hope organizations like GiveWell and CharityNavigator continue to find effective ways to do philanthropy, and we can follow their lead. While the public health crisis may wane with time, we see no end to the remote working trend. Our team has identified an un-filled niche that sits at the intersection of art, philanthropy, and the digital economy. We also hope that, with some scale, to negotiate terms for artists so they are compensated

What is the name of your business or organization?

Backgrounds for (COVID) 19

What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

What is your profession?

We are a team of volunteers seeking to launch this non-profit. Our backgrounds range from UX, other forms of design, to service work and non-prof

Where are you located (country)?

United States

Where are you located (region)?

  • North America

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Arts/Entertainment
  • Communications/Visual Design
  • Customer Experience/Service
  • Designer(UX/CX/Design Research)
  • Entrepreneur/Investor
  • Non-Profit/Philanthropy
  • Technology

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 0-10

How old is your business/company?

  • Less than 1 year old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Nonprofit/NGO

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Grants
  • Funding- Loans
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Grassroots/Community Groups

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • Yes

If Yes to the above, please share 1-2 sentences describing the specific help you desire.

We are a volunteer-run organization around only for 2-4 weeks. Our team was born in this crisis. If provided grant funding we could continue operations, paying a lean staff of COVID-affected workers, which would include signing up more artists, marketing, and small platform costs. We believe creating a separate entity with oversight is essential to ensure revenue of digital goods on zoom and other platforms end up "going to the right place"

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

Barrier 1: Walled gardens. Digital technology platforms lock-in profits that stifle revenue sharing and growth. Barrier 2: Corporate entity structure. Private companies lack strong board oversight and accountability of revenues that we seek to create with this non-profit. Barrier 3: start-up costs. Volunteer labor + donated art is unsustainable.

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?

Nothing specific to this. However, many artists are already donating their fine work to the UN call for artists (meant to address public health graphic communication).

Website URL


Join the conversation:

Photo of Shruti Saha

Hey Jonathan, I just had a look at your website and I think this is a great Initiative. Me as a designer/ Illustration artist, I see this as an opportunity for independent artists or painting school recent graduates to get a chance to sell their work. Using this crisis situation to support independent artists is a super cool idea.

Photo of Curt Lennix


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