Freely You Have Received, Freely Give

It’s National Philanthropy Day and kudos to all who give their time, talents and treasures to make our world a better place!

I’m currently working on a fund appeal newsletter for my church. In the religious community we refer to philanthropy as stewardship, and our goal is to give just as God has given to us. We want to give out of love not only for everything he has created, but also out of love for God himself.

Philanthropy, stewardship or just plain ol’ giving…whatever you want to call it, it’s a good thing to do. So thanks to all you movers and shakers, you who donate and you who care!

With that in mind, I want to put out word to those needing help with their visual communications, whether it be design or copywriting. Each year Adunate does two pro-bono projects—one large and one small. If your organization needs creative assistance in 2014, click here for an application. And then, click here to guarantee your project’s success!

And while we’re talking giving, here’s the cover and inside page of my church’s newsletter. There will be more to follow, but take a look so far.




Have You Sent Your Thank You Note?

Thank you card for Trinity Lutheran Church, Waukesha, WI

When I was a kid, my mom was naggingly insistent that her children send thank you notes whenever we received a gift. Well, according to Tom Ahern, a leading authority on working with donors, once again mom was right.

“Thank the donor immediately,” says Ahern in his book Keep Your Donors: The Guide to Better Communications & Stronger Relationships. “The thank you letter sets the tone for all your subsequent communications with the donor.”

Trinity Lutheran Church, Waukesha, WI, is spot on when it comes to thank you’s. Church secretary Sandy recently asked me to design a simple card that would allow them to handwrite their own message of thanks, whatever the occasion.

Working with Sandy has been a charm. We discussed imagery for the cover and Sandy submitted several samples that she shot herself. With a little sharpening and perspective adjustment, her photo of Trinity’s stained glass window was just what we wanted. We topped that off with a UV coating on the cover side for a nice gloss and left the inside flat for easy writing (thanks Crossmark Graphics).

A beautiful card, a handwritten note and a fitting Bible passage. Now there’s a thank you note my mom would have loved!



Color is Communication

Today was another meeting for my church’s fund appeal campaign.

You’ll recall St. Mark’s Lutheran, Watertown, WI, is raising money for its school’s building addition and renovation. I’m one of three people serving on the communications committee (three being the perfect number for such a group).

The appeal planning committee had previously decided to use the same logo for this second phase as we did for the first, with perhaps a change of color for a distinguishing factor. We communications people willingly obliged and set forth studying the theories of communicating with color.

Color Communication 101

God created us to be very visual beings. He beautified our world with an array of colors and each one communicates a message.

With this thought in mind, graphic designers use color as a tool when designing logos. In doing so, they consider two important things: #1) the audience and #2) the message.

In our case, the audience is our 3000 congregation members of varying ages (median is 37) and walks of life. Of course, when choosing a color for the logo we cannot choose someone’s favorite, can we? Because, after all, each of our 3000 members has their own favorite color.

Instead we choose colors by the message they communicate.

Our logo’s objective is to communicate one overall message: “We have an important task of sharing the good news of salvation to future generations—a task we can fulfill through our school.” Additionally, the logo should also convey these attitudes:

  • Excitement
  • Happiness
  • Youthfulness
  • Energy
  • Vitality
  • Forward-thinking

Orange and yellow do all of this. Orange is a color that demands an exclamation point! As Leatrice Eiseman says in Pantone Guide to Communicating With Color,” orange contains some of the drama of red, tempered by the cheerful good humor of yellow.”

She also says, “Of all color combinations in nature, yellow and black is the most unignorable,” making this a pow!, as in powerful, use of color.

Let’s do some comparisons:


Purple was our second choice of color.

Purple is royal. It’s conveys spiritualism and excitement. It also has a futuristic quality when used in the right hue.

Purple is glorious, but when it really comes down to it, it doesn’t communicate our message with the vibrancy that orange and yellow do.


St. Mark’s team mascot is the lion and its colors are red and white. Wouldn’t red be an applicable color?

For many reasons, yes, it would. Red communicates energy, excitement and passion. It’s is a color that motivates the viewer to action.

Yet, red is also a color of heat. Fire. Cinders. Here in our logo, we have a child walking with a lamb and lion—something incomprehensible, except by God. We certainly don’t want to associate them with fire, as in hell fires!

Nope, red will not do this time.


Here are the colors we used three years ago for our first campaign.

When we began this campaign, there was a pervading doubt within the congregation and members wondered how we could afford to renovate our school. Therefore, the logo had to convey trust. It needed to remind members of God’s words when he says “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” Jeremiah 29:11.

An initial color choice might have been blue. Blue is calming, meditative and spiritual. Dark blue conveys credibility and trustworthiness, which is why you often see financial institutions or policemen in navy.

Yet, blue wasn’t the right color.

This was a school project. It was for our children. It was about life. And when we began this campaign, it was before the big economic bust, a time when everyone was thinking green, sustainable and resourceful. Green communicates all of these things, plus more—it communicates generosity, a very necessary factor as we started our project.

Color is such an awesome thing, isn’t it? It’s a creation of God. It not only beautifies our world, it communicates a message.

So there you have it—the true theory of color.

Very awesome indeed.

St. Mark’s Lutheran, Watertown, WI

It’s an exciting time for St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and School, in Watertown, WI. Its 3000+ members are currently raising funds to build an addition and renovate their elementary school building.

Like many congregations, St. Mark’s maintains a tight budget. Members expressed concern, even doubt, that they could take on additional financial responsibilities. To combat this skepticism, the 3-member communications committee chose an appeal theme with this twofold goal in mind:

1. Create a positive attitude among members
2. Reinforce the trust we have in God’s plan for his people

Because the school mascot is the lion, they correlated their theme with Isaiah 11:6, in which the child leads the lion and the lamb. A reoccurring quote has been “St. Mark’s lambs will one day become our lions.”

Creating a logo within its budget was important for St. Mark’s (pro-bono, in fact). To make efficient use of time and cost, I started with stock vector images and then customized them for our purposes. The result is a bright, contemporary logo that’s used in publications, banners, letterhead suite, dvd and T-shirts.