8 Graphic Design Tips for Nonprofits

graphic design tips

If you want your nonprofit marketing campaigns to stand out, you need eye-catching and engaging graphics. Photographs, infographics, GIFs, videos, and illustrations are all examples of graphics that can enhance your branding and convey your message.

While you probably need a graphic designer for deeper branding such as logo design, you can create many of your day-to-day web, newsletter, or social media content without hiring an in-house graphic designer. Try these tips to get started!


How to Make Your Nonprofit Stand Out Without a Full-time Graphic Designer

1. Turn to a graphic designer for key assets

If possible, recruit a designer to create a set of key assets you can use and reuse. You may be able to hire a local artist or find an art student who will volunteer. 

Some examples of key graphic design assets include:

  • A logo, if you don’t have one.
  • Branding kits including guidelines on specific color palettes and font combinations.
  • A series of custom illustrations so you don’t need to rely on stock or clip art.
  • A series of quality, original photographs for high-level campaigns, brochures, or ads.
  • Easy to edit templates for your day-to-day needs.

If you can afford to involve a designer or photographer to create some of these assets upfront, you will find it easier to create professional-looking and consistent designs on a day-to-day basis.

2. Involve the right team member

In today’s media-driven age, chances are, someone on your team may have some basic talent at layout and design. They may be tech-savvy and have a good eye for a simple yet attractive design.

Sometimes it is a member of your communication team and sometimes it is someone unexpected. Identify the right person and carve time for them to create everyday graphics like social media images.

3. Use the right tools

It is easier than ever to create professional-looking media using free or inexpensive online tools or apps. Find a tool or two that you find easy to use and allows you to incorporate your branding. 

Keep in mind that we see a lot of busy and confusing designs precisely because there are so many easy-to-use tools that anyone can create a design. This is why it helps if the person using the tools has a good eye and the discipline to stay on message. 

With those skills and a great app, your organization can produce professional-looking design assets without hiring an in-house designer.

4. Use templates wisely

Most of today’s best design apps include professionally designed templates. You can replace existing elements to include your fonts, color palette, logo, and other images like photographs. 

A good template saves time yet allows a consistent look for your social media. Even better, if you have a limited budget you may be able to hire a professional designer to create custom templates you can easily edit to quickly create new images.

5. Don’t be afraid to impose limitations

Sometimes people resist rules because they feel it hinders their creativity. Many designers recognize that voluntarily limiting themselves can actually enhance creativity. 

For example, following branding guidelines offers a range of options to be creative while maintaining a consistent feel that followers and supporters will recognize as coming from your organization.

When it comes to sharing your message, simplicity is usually best. People are busy and tend to skim or scroll through online content. If someone can quickly grasp the meaning while scrolling Instagram, they are more likely to stop and read the caption or even take action.

Saying that, at some point, you may feel breaking your self-imposed rules might better convey a specific message. In time, you may learn which rules to bend while still maintaining a recognizable brand look. This is something every creative person does at some point and is a sign that you are growing as a designer and as a marketer.

6. Don’t spam

Whenever possible, avoid imposing pop-ups, self-playing videos, and other “spammy” feeling elements on your website. With so many options and low technical barriers, it is easy to overdo these elements. 

The same applies to graphic design. It’s easy to add text including “calls to action” to your images. A clear message is ideal, but avoid overloading the viewer or reader with too many messages. This can result in a “spammy” look. Remember, many people are ad-weary which is why Ad Blocking software and plugins are so popular.

7. Remember white space or empty space is your friend

Incorporate white space in your designs. Today’s audience constantly receives information through traditional media, the internet, and even just from their surroundings. The eye and the brain need space to process this information. Avoid cramming too much information within your graphics, instead, save space for openness.

The same concept also applies to your text content such as your web or social media copy. Paragraph breaks introduce white space and make it easier for readers to process your message.

8. Integrate design with your other marketing tactics

Finally, consider using a 360-degree nonprofit productivity suite like UncommonGood. Your design is one element of nonprofit marketing and is more powerful when it complements your written content, strategy, and other media.

A tool like UncommonGood makes it easy to incorporate design into your fundraising, volunteer recruitment, stakeholder communication, social media marketing, and event planning activities.

Contact us today for a free demonstration and to learn how to make your nonprofit marketing even more effective.

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