How much I charge for design and why

Without the overheads of an agency and wanting all charities and ethical organisations to be able to access the highest quality work, I charge four different, competitively priced, hourly rates, based on a client’s ability to pay. This means I can invest more time on your project, for your budget – resulting in the best possible outcomes. The following groups are broad-brush, and I am happy to discuss which rate is most appropriate.

£34 an hour

Rate for grassroots peace, environmental and social justice groups with very modest budgets. Based on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Minimum Income Standard.

£40 an hour

Rate for lower income charities, ethical organisations and businesses.

£50 an hour

Rate for charities and middle income ethical organisations and businesses.

£60 an hour

Rate for higher income ethical organisations and businesses.

No VAT to add

I’m not VAT registered, so you don’t have to pay VAT on top of my fee.


Hourly rate or day rate

I charge an hourly rate, rather than a day rate. It is unusual to be able to spend a whole day on one project. Many agencies charge a day’s work when they might have only spent a few hours on the project that day. I believe the right thing to do, is to charge for the actual hours worked.

Utilisation rate

The industry body for design businesses, the Design Business Association, suggest that a sole trader should expect to charge for around half their time, with the other half running the business (see below). This correlates with advice, when I started-up the business, from my business mentor that a consultant should expect to charge for 100 days a year. Over the 18 years of being in business this concept of 100 billable days, or 700 hours, has proved roughly accurate.

Non-billable time includes admin, keeping accounts, marketing, tendering for work, keeping the tech up-to-date and running smoothly, attending events, professional development, buying office equipment and (it feels brave to admit this) the troughs when there is no work.

Business costs

With no salespeople, account handlers or fancy office, my overheads are very low. Expenses include, software, hardware, marketing, professional costs, home office costs, travel, telephone, banking and office supplies. My average annual business costs are just £3,500. So, for every hour I bill, £5 goes towards expenses (£3,500 ÷ 700 hours). This means that more of your budget is being invested on your project and not spent on the overheads of a design agency.

Minimum Income Standard

The £34 an hour rate is based on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Minimum Income Standard of £18,700, plus 8% pension and business costs = £23,700. Divided by 700 hours gives a rate of £34 an hour. See Joseph Rowntree Foundation report.