Design tips and insights for nonprofits and social enterprises.

DIY your next viral marketing campaign

DIY your next viral marketing campaign

I hear the word “viral” a lot, but what does it take to make something that people want to share? According to Seth Godin, make it so enticing that they have to share it with at least one other person.

7 things to keep in mind for your next viral campaign

What is the campaign about
Maybe you want to raise awareness. But think about why you want to raise awareness. Is there something special about your organization or mission? Maybe there’s something new that’s a game changer? It might help to gather some stakeholders and brainstorm together.

Who is your audience
Be as specific as possible so you craft the right content and tone.

Make something entertaining and shareable
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every campaign, but a new perspective can help. It can be as simple as getting your team to do something silly and document it through photos and video.

Why should they share
People tend to share things that are a statement about what they believe in. Another option is to put them in the driver’s seat by letting them choose what the special offer is. You can give them something exclusive, or appeal to their emotional needs and values.

Make it easy and rewarding
Don’t make them click 5 times, or jump through hoops. If it’s not easy to view and share, they will not do it.

Acknowledge and reward them
Thank them, answer questions and be responsive, always. I recently read about a Swedish blood bank that sends donors a text message when their blood has been given to a patient. Wow! I would give blood just to get one of these text messages.

Give up some control
Like all things that live on the internet, you have to give up some control. You can’t always predict how people will respond or use what you create. If you embrace this fact, it actually puts you ahead of the game.


I’d love to hear about a recent campaign you did. Was it shared like you hoped?

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DC social enterprise:

Social Entrepreneurship
DC social enterprise:

Local social enterprise is reimagining the wedding registry. The same old rules in planning a wedding don’t apply anymore, unless of course, you’re that traditionally kind of couple. No need to wear white, or have an open bar, or even throw the bouquet — and you definitely don’t need a traditional wedding registry. Today, couples want their weddings to be a true reflection of themselves. If you’re socially active and mission-driven, the wedding industry now has options to match. This is what spurred Kate Glantz to start

After attending countless weddings, Kate reflected on her time in the Peace Corps and saw a gap between wedding gifts and charitable giving. The traditional registries didn’t offer a way for a couple to forgo the pots and place settings for something that aligned with their values. So she took her idea for a social good wedding registry to a startup weekend event in 2014, won the top prize, and started to build her business. Now empowers couples in funding life-changing projects about the world.

Share your happily ever after
Setting up an account is easy, then a couple can browse the different projects and partners they can support. If there aren’t any projects of interest or the couple want’s to help a specific nonprofit, will work directly with the organization to get them onboard as a partner. Couples will then receive a unique URL for their registry which they can then post on their wedding website, or via email, social media, etc. Helping others on such a big life event has never been easier.

How much impact can a wedding registry have?
Kate started with just an idea to fill a void and make a difference. Now two years later, already has a success story that shows the impact a wedding registry can have. Last year, a couple was able to support an addition to a health clinic in Tanzania assisting HIV/AIDS patients. Some of the other projects that need support help children in the US, families in India, and even the homeless right here in DC.

Weddings require constant small decisions to be made. It’s nice to know that a local social good company like is making sure at least one of those decisions can help support a cause you care about.

This post first appeared on DC Ladies.

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What is design for social impact?

What is design for social impact?

Do you know what design for good is and how it can make a difference in the impact you have? This type of work goes by a few names: social design, design for social impact, design for good. But what does it mean? It used to mean doing pro-bono work for nonprofits between paying gigs. Now, it’s much more complicated than that.

Many designers are now tasked with driving impact and improving services and processes. It’s new and exhilarating territory for creatives like myself.

My two cents on what design for social impact is, and can be:

  • Any project that strives for positive economic, social, or environmental goals.
  • A bottom-up approach to the needs of the audience.
  • Being inclusive in who your audience is and how to reach them.
  • Designing anything for a nonprofit or social enterprise
  • Design-developed solution to a specific social problem, without a client.

How to use design to increase your social impact

It can seem complicated to engage a designer to help you think, or even rethink, a problem. It’s so much easier to just say, “I need a new brochure.” If that is all you ever do, then you’re just scratching the surface.

A few tips on how to use design for social impact:

  • Explore the value that design can bring, and tell others about it
  • Bring a designer to the table early in the process, not at just when you’ve already decided what you need.
  • Start small

How have you used design for social impact? I’d love to know.

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Perfection should not be the goal

Perfection should not be the goal

I’m a designer that doesn’t believe in perfection. Yup, you read that right. Now, I know there are many people who would say I’m crazy for admitting this out loud. Let me be clear, I don’t mean that I’ll send your 10,000 brochures to the printer with typos. No, that’s not happening.

Like Facebook, move fast and break things
In today’s digital space things can be iterated and tweaked constantly as you test and learn. Also, solutions to complex social problems should be prototyped and tested quickly to get insight from the community and not waste resources. If you wait too long to get something perfect, you’ve missed your chance to be done and on to the next version.

So, what do I strive for in design?

  • making connections between your purpose and the needs of others
  • bottom-up approaches to solutions, instead of top down
  • trying a few things and see what sticks
  • rethinking the question


What do you strive for in your work?

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6 common design myths about social impact

6 common design myths about social impact

Design for social impact can be nuanced and complicated. Here are 6 common myths to keep in mind:

The issue is too complicated to be presented simply
The problems you’re tackling are multifaceted and complicated, but if you can’t drill down to the essence of what you’re trying to accomplish, you overwhelm your audience and they will turn away. You’re the expert on the issue, but they don’t have to be. In fact, they shouldn’t have to know everything in order to support your work. Be succinct, don’t talk above them or below them, and let them know how it benefits them.

Nonprofits don’t have competitors
I don’t think people believe this anymore, but I’m including it here just in case. I know there are other organizations that share a similar mission with you. I generally believe that people are generous, but they will not give to every organization that they see. Figure out what makes you different and what makes your audience different. Use that to guide everything you do.

Printed materials can’t look expensive
I’ve heard this before from nonprofits. I get that the average person doesn’t know how much printing costs, so if they see something big and super glossy they say it looks expensive. But that is not necessarily the case anymore. Digital printing has changed the game and sometimes it can actually be more expensive to print something in 2 colors on craft paper, then full color on glossy paper.

Innovation is for companies like Apple, not nonprofits
Innovation comes in many forms and shapes. More and more nonprofits and social enterprises are starting up every day, and I’m sure you’ve come across organizations with similar missions in your research. It’s safe to say the market is getting crowded, which is good, right? More people are trying to make a difference. Bringing new ideas to social impact through resources, inventions, approaches, partnerships, etc., can be your differentiator. Many foundations are looking for these very types of things to fund and support, so don’t let “It’s never been done before,” stop you.

Making it pretty is enough
Yes, sometimes a killer logo is what you need for a campaign, but sometimes it’s not. The right designer can help you get to the heart of your objectives and needs, and help you develop a unique solution. Don’t forget metrics. A nice looking website doesn’t necessarily mean that more people are clicking that donate button.

Good design is expensive
The cost of good design is relative, like everything else in life. It really depends on who’s doing the designing. Large creative agencies are going to be more expensive than an independent designer, but then again bigger agencies might have more resources to do pro-bono work. There are also organizations like Taproot that provide grants for creative work, and sites like Catchafire to help you find the perfect volunteer designer. Also, free tools like Canva help you DIY something that can look pretty good. Don’t be afraid to approach a designer you’d like to work with, you never know what you can negotiate.

Do you know of any others? I’d love to hear them.

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