Design tips and insights for nonprofits and social enterprises.

Need better design, but don’t have your sh*t together?

Have you realized that you need to bring your “A” game to your social impact design and marketing, but not sure how to start? It’s time to call for help. Someone that not only produces great work, but understands your needs, and that you would actually like working with.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs
In order to make that possible, you have a bit of homework.  Here’s how you get your sh*t together before any actual designing takes place:
  • Figure out what the problem is that you’re trying to solve. Are online sales down? Is no one opening your emails? Everyone gets your org. confused with a different one? You get the idea. This is gold for designers. We love to solve problems and look for unique ways to do it.
  • What will success look like: is it raising $$$, getting more subscribers to your newsletter, getting your audience to take you seriously. This will help us come up with creative solutions.
  • Be realistic about how much you can spend. This number might change after you look around and see how much campaigns, branding, etc., actually cost.
  • Start looking at different designers/agencies to get a feel for how they work, their strengths and personalities. Ask around for recommendations.
  • Ask for a consultation. You might have to pay for one, but it will help you get a feel for each other.

When was the first time you invested in your organization’s design? How was the experience?

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How to DIY your brand to meet your short-term goals


So you have a new business or nonprofit and you need a consistent look for all your marketing and communications. No $$ to hire an expert? Confident you can DIY?

Think of your brand as the mothership
Your brand is not just a logo, but the overarching look and feel that touches everything you do and say about your organization. When developing a brand you should start with the who, what, and why of your business and audience. Then you can work on making sure your logo, colors, etc. are a visual representation of that.

Your DIY branding resources
Inexpensive resources to help you figure out your brand and create print and online graphics:

  • Branding Toolkit for Changemakers  – an ebook that guides you through the branding process
  • moo – print business cards and other kinds of materials from templates, or upload your own
  • hands on every day  – print business cards and other kinds of materials from templates, or hire them to create custom designs
  • canva – create social media graphics or other print materials

DIYing might be the best short-term solution, but as you grow, pivot your business, or go after a more targeted audience, a larger investment will have to be made. If that happens, no worries. There are plenty of professionals, myself included, that would love to help.

Have you DIYed a brand before? Where you happy with the results?

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How to DIY your website to meet your short-term goals

Web Design

The last couple of weeks I’ve written how design is a necessity, but what if your budget is practically nonexistent. What do you do?

Hands down, for your long-term success your site needs to be invested in, but if you just need a short-term site there are free, or inexpensive platforms and templates you can use.
Regardless of how much money you spend, your sites success rate will depend on your figuring these things out:

  • what are your objectives for the site
  • make your content user focused — what do they need & want to know
  • write in small chunks not long paragraphs
  • use headlines, subheads and callouts for people to skim
  • make sure its mobile responsive

You can choose from a variety of inexpensive platforms: WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, or Shopify. Which you chose should depend on the kind of site you want to build and the content you have. Look at the templates offered and check out other sites that have used them to help you make the best choice.

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You only have 15 seconds to convince your audience

Branding | Marketing | Web Design

You’re passionate and knowledgeable about the work you do, but sometimes that gets in the way of convincing others how important it is. More than half of the visitors to your website will spend about 15 seconds on your homepage or any other page for that matter. Holy crap! I think many sites will fail this test.

What’s the key to breaking this? Show more, tell less. Show what your mission/product is. Show your impact. Show the reader what action they need to take. The rest is icing.

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Is design a necessity for impact?


Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.—George Bernard Shaw

When you’re strapped for cash and resources, how do you make something a priority? I often hear from passionate, but stressed out leaders that even though they know the value of design, they just don’t have the budget. So when does design, or creative and effective communications for that matter, come in? The first step is deciding that’s what you want. Then you set up systems, routines, and support to make it happen.

The other alternative is just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep up the status quo. Keep hoping your passion and knowledge is enough to move the needle.

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