Design tips and insights for nonprofits and social enterprises.

How to Chose Photos Like a Creative Director

Campaigns | Marketing
09.19.17
How to Chose Photos Like a Creative Director

Your marketing or fundraising campaign needs just the right photo to make an impact. How do you know which one will work? Or which ones to even try?

Whether you’re choosing from stock photography or working with a photographer, the photo selection process is an important step in telling the story of your organization and impact.

Once you know the main goal of the campaign, you’re one step closer to picking a great image to enhance it.

Your campaign needs the right photo to make an impact. Click To Tweet

A good photo usually has these 4 things in common:

1. Good composition
The composition is the arrangement of all the elements in the picture. Background, foreground, shapes, proportion, etc. The photo should feel balanced.

2. Good exposure
Think areas of light and dark. A lot can be done in Adobe Photoshop to fix certain lighting issues, but not always. It’s always best to start with a good image.

3. Emotion
Does it make you feel happy, empathy, or powerless? Be careful about relying too much on “misery” to tell your story.

4. Captures a moment 
Photos that capture a moment in time can be a powerful storyteller. Maybe it’s something small that’s often overlooked, or even a really big moment that usually passes by quickly.

Once you’ve found photos that meet the 4 requirements (or at least 3) narrow down the options by asking yourself these:

  • How many do I need?
  • What size do I need?
  • How will these be used (social media, print, etc.)?
  • Will the text be placed on top, next to, or not at all?

It’s important to choose a few options to test before making the final selection. A good designer can make magic with even “not-so-great” photos, but it’s usually best to start with a variety of images. Lay them out and pick whichever works best for your needs. You could even A/B test two different photos in a campaign and compare results.

What have been your successes or failures when choosing the right photo? Let me know in the comments

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Who is the hero of your fundraising story?

Campaigns | Marketing
08.23.17
Who is the hero of your fundraising story?

Without a hero, stories fall flat. We need someone to root for, hope for, or fight for. Also, without a hero, the story is quickly forgotten.

So, who’s the hero of your nonprofit story? You have 2 choices: your donors or your clients Click To Tweet

What should you write about?
When it comes to writing your story, there is a lot to consider. One is for sure, “We’re great, support us!” shouldn’t be your story.

All stories need to have 3 elements:

  • Hero — give us someone to root for
  • Desire — what does this person want or need
  • Conflict — what’s standing in the way

And don’t forget to make us feel. The best stories involve emotion. Don’t focus on numbers and data at this point. Put us in the hero’s shoes with an emotional connection.

What about an ending?
You actually don’t have to give your story an ending. Let the reader add their ending by enticing them to take action on behalf of the hero.

Which hero should you pick?
If you’re not sure if you should focus on donors or clients, then conduct an A/B test. Your website or social media is the perfect place to test this kind of thing. Create both stories, with similar visuals, and test them to see which one resonates the most with your audience.

Have you created a story focused on a client or donor? I’d love to hear about it.

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top 12 nonprofit resources everyone needs to know

Marketing
07.26.17
top 12 nonprofit resources everyone needs to know

One of the things I love about what I do is that I always keep learning. It’s important to stay up to date on happenings in your industry when trying to get better and do more. Which means that I read a lot about the design and nonprofit worlds. I check a few sites regularly, but I was wondering what else should I be reading. So, I asked the Facebook group Nonprofit Happy Hour for some recommendations. Below is a list from a few members of the group:

Prefer to listen instead of read? Check out these podcasts:

  • The Nonprofit Happy Hour
  • Nonprofit Hub Radio
  • Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast
  • SproutCast
  • Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio

If you’re not a member of the group Nonprofit Happy Hour, I suggest you request to join. They are a great resource for advice, feedback, and support when you’re deep in the trenches of nonprofit work.

Did I miss one of your favs? Add your go-to resource in the comments.

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The design secret to increase email open rates

Design | Marketing
06.09.17
The design secret to increase email open rates

The key to a successful email is hierarchy. Why? It helps the reader skim, read, and understand the content, makes it more visually appealing, and increases click-through rates. And that’s really want we want, right?

If you’re not sure how to add hierarchy to your email here is a handy list:

3 steps to better emailers

1. Get your content together

  • You content first and foremost, so get your draft together. This may consist of a brain dump and just putting it all on paper, or collecting content from team members. Either way, gather everything you want and need to say in your emailer.
  • Edit, check for grammar, on-brand language, links, etc., etc.

2. Review your template and edit content accordingly

  • Next step is to look at your template and reorganize and edit the content to fit. Start thinking about the headlines, subheads, links, etc.
  • If your copy is missing some of these, add them in.
  • This works both ways. Sometimes your template will have to be tweaked to accommodate your content.

3. Use font size and style to make it interesting

Most people will see the larger, bolder, and colored items first. This is what tells them what they should pay attention to first, second and third. The sizes below are only guidelines. Depending on the font used, color, whether it’s bold or normal, etc., you can maybe go a bit smaller or larger.

  • Stick to 1-2 different fonts.
  • Large headlines should have a font size of 26-36px, depending on its length.
  • Subheads are used to break up large amounts of text, differentiate content and add visual interest. They should have a font size of 20-26px.
  • Body copy should consist of short blurbs of 1-3 sentences and should be 14-16px. Break up long content with subheads and images.
  • Also, mix up the bolds, color, italic to help as needed. But don’t go crazy. Think about how it supports the content and hierarchy.

People have more than enough to read in their inbox, so make sure your emailers get the attention they deserve by making them easy to read and visually appealing.

Got any other ideas on how to make emails better?

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3 steps to better marketing goals for 2017

Design | Marketing
12.08.16
3 steps to better marketing goals for 2017

Do you hold onto things that are no longer useful? I do. I recently found 10-year-old art supplies that I’ve kept for some insane reason.  Well, now they’re out. Letting go can be hard, but we have to do it to make room for new and better things.

With the new year around the corner now is the perfect time to figure out how to be more efficient and effective. Better design can help.

How to take stock, assess, and reach your marketing goals in the new year:

Step 1
Review the past year’s campaigns, marketing, brand, etc. Did the brand feel cohesive? Was your audience uninterested in the marketing? Ask your team to participate. See what worked well, or not, ask questions and listen.

Step 2
Set some goals based on your findings from Step 1. This can be done individually and as a group. Think both short-term (1 year) and long-term (2–5 years). Examples might be: More funding for a new brand; change your annual report from a printed piece into a microsite.

Step 3
Develop a game plan for moving forward. Prioritize and set timelines to hold yourself, and others, accountable. Start looking for resources and services to improve your design, marketing, and funding.

I know this is easier said than done. But it’s necessary if you want to reach those big, hairy goals, not to mention, change the world.

Are you doing any goal-setting for the new year? I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours. 

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DIY Behind the Scenes marketing campaign

Campaigns | Marketing
08.24.16
DIY Behind the Scenes marketing campaign

Telling your story and the impact you have can be difficult. It takes planning and resources, so here are a few tips on how to DIY a “Behind the Scenes” marketing campaign.

First, spend some time thinking about the actual project/initiative you’re working on and what kind of behind the scenes story you want to tell. Are you working with a photographer to get some client stories for your website? Or maybe putting together your Fall line of sustainable accessories? Each one will call for a slightly different approach.

Take pictures and video of everything.

  • Equipment, accessories, production assembly line
  • Transporting and going to venue
  • Setting everything up
  • People in action
  • Team meetings and gatherings
  • Taking a break and having fun

Take notes and ask questions

  • Capture funny things said and profound insights from participants
  • Get someone that participated to write about what it was like from their point of view.

Now edit and upload

  • Post 1-2 per day on your social media accounts. If you have multiple accounts try to use slightly different angles and cropping, so that it doesn’t seem like the same exact picture is being used. Add text to provide context, tag people, and use a hashtag.
  • Combine a few into grids using apps like Layout.
  • Add some to your blog or website.
  • Using an app like Canva and design a graphic with a quote from one of the participants
  • Feature a short synopsis of the day by one of the participants on your blog or website.

A few things to keep in mind

  • Bring extra cameras
  • Have someone dedicated to taking pictures and talking to participants
  • Be flexible and a fly on the wall
  • Tell a story using images and interviews
  • Don’t be a perfectionist

Everyone loves to see how things come together and get a glimpse behind the curtain. This is your opportunity to showcase your dedicated team and the hard work they put in—even if it’s a team of one.

Have you done a behind the scenes campaign before? What worked and didn’t work?

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