Must Non-Profits Look Like a Charity Case?

National School Leadership Conference

When I met with Rachel DiGiorgio two months ago, I knew I was going to like working with her. Rachel is the project manager for an upcoming National School Leadership Conference and she wanted topnotch promo pieces for this non-profit event.

“We want to look like a class act,” she said. Oh, that gave me a warm and happy feeling!

I do a lot of work for non-profits and I must admit sometimes it’s a challenge. They’re usually working on limited budgets, understandably so, and this defines how much they can spend on communicating their message.

It’s challenging in other ways as well. There’s a mistaken notion that if the visual communications for a non-profit are too flashy, too professional, or maybe just too “well designed,” they convey wastefulness on the part of the organization. Non-profits worry their audiences won’t open their checkbook or sign up to volunteer.

But guess what—it doesn’t benefit any organization, non-profit or not, to look like a charity case. Here are three reasons why.

Good Design Does Invisible Magic

A non-profit’s communication goal should be to attract its target audiences and hold their attention long enough to tell its story. Good design does this. It does it invisibly, without viewers even realizing why they’re impressed. Good design doesn’t have to be flashy or expensive, but it must give thought to theme, style, topography and imagery.

Good design is good communication.

Communication Establishes Credibility

Your visual communication is your image. It tells who you are. A poorly executed promo piece says you’re amateur, cheap, and you do not value your organization. A well-designed piece on quality paper (which doesn’t have to be expensive) says you are professional, honorable, and worthy of your audience’s time and money.

Your Effort Shows You Care

I love how Rachel explains her class act goals.

“God gave us his best,” says Rachel. “And while our best cannot rival God’s, we continue to strive to do our ‘human’ best out of love and gratitude.”

Really, why wouldn’t an organization want to look its very best? Why wouldn’t it want to communicate its message in a way that brings the best results?

Obviously, I’m not the only one asking these questions. Check out this DesignTalk discussion, where more than 85 people voiced a similar opinion.

 

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Comments

  1. Some charities go overboard, like last week Peta caused a stir with an online advert that suggested you don’t have to eat meat to be a red-blooded male. They are extreeme and try to push peoples buttons.

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