We do our best at Angel Oak Creative to prove the value of marketing to nonprofits. And my part of marketing is all about the visuals. Sure, there are pain points that seem to be tough for nonprofits in the design realm, but there are also beauty points that can really improve your visual identities and our design relationship.
So let’s talk design.
The Pain Points
Money – Good design doesn’t have to break the bank. A lot of nonprofits have never known good design because they’ve never invested in it. I know it seems like we just draw pretty pictures that our moms hang on the fridge, but trust me, we can help you connect with your audience and launch your mission forward. In the long run, an investment in design can more than pay for itself.
Time – Time is a huge factor in designing for nonprofits. But it’s also limited, and we get that. We believe in playing the long game. It takes intentional time to know who you are and build a brand you can push out to your audience. This identity and repetitive exposure to your audience builds your personality and tone and gains trust from your supporters. People need to know you and relate to you in order to partner with you.
Understanding – No one would ever expect a hipster barista to know how to perform open heart surgery. Just like I would never expect a project manager or the head of finance to know color theory or what the term “kerning” means. That’s my job: to explain design in great detail so you know the why behind everything I’ve created for your organization. That’s what makes good design. It solves your problems, moves you forward and gives you a platform for understanding and growth.
The Ingredients for Success
Trust – This is the part where I beg you, on behalf of all creative professionals, to trust us. Please. And make us prove that we know what we’re doing! Ask us questions about everything – we love when you’re engaged. We love seeing that you care about this process. Push back on things you don’t like, but be willing to listen and hear why I made what I did for you. It fires me up and makes me even more engaged.
Also, please remember, good design isn’t about what you like best. It’s about what represents your organization the best. We’re designing to solve problems. So, let’s meet each other in the middle, have honest conversations and trust each other’s strengths.
Honesty – We learn pretty early that if we can’t take the heat, we should stay out of the kitchen. Never be afraid to be honest with your creative. We’re trained to take criticism in our work. It’s just part of the gig, and if we weren’t open to feedback and critique, our job would be pretty shallow and produce low quality work. So push me on things and speak up! I can take it.
Collaboration – Be in this with me! I’m with you and for you and am focusing on your organization’s mission. If you don’t consider yourself “creative,” just tell me. You still know your organization better than I probably ever will, and your perspective is a necessity. Share it with me so we can get to the best possible solution together.
How’s that for encouragement? These pain and beauty points are intended to help you look at design a little differently. As designers, we’re here to partner with you and give you a voice and identity to launch your mission forward. We know you’re working every day to better our community and our world, and we want to join you and help you go as far as you possibly can.
– Anna DeBoy, Creative Strategist