Should Your Nonprofit Invest in Good Design?

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Why should your nonprofit invest in good design? Your mission is pressing, the needs are great — why spend money on design when it seems like it would be better spent on something that has a more direct effect on your customer. Here’s why. Good design is universally understood and people respond to it.

Good design sells. Whatever you’re selling or promoting.

We respond positively to the design and functionality of the latest smartphone, the buildings we live and work in, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, the chair we sit in — so why would good design not be important to the look, feel and functionality of our outreach materials? It is. The better the design, the better the response. Good design and employing best practices for optimal functionality will inspire your visitor to take action, donate, get involved and support your cause.

Three Fundamentals No Good Designer Will Miss

Evocative, On-target Images

A picture really is worth a thousand words. Engage your visitor or customer, draw them into your message. Whether it’s a delicious visual on the front page of your website, or the front cover of your print catalog or annual report, a well-planned and well-designed visual makes your work easy. Lots of text runs the risk of going unread. A strong visual will always make an impact

A Solid Grid and Clear Eyepath

A disorganized layout or nonexistent grid will leave your visitor or customer wondering where to go, and they could easily just go away. We access information in an organized manner, and eyepath is crucial to conveying your clear message and directing the reader where you want them to go. So good design includes the structure of your message, the grid, the layout. A visitor who has been lead down an easy path to being a customer, a contributor, or a participant will retain a satisfied feeling and possibly become an evangelist for your cause/product.

Make Information Fun

Often you will have a lot of information you need to convey about your nonprofit, public agency or mission-driven business. Whether it’s about populations/demographics served, programs offered, upcoming events, client testimonials, statistics, results/outcomes, budgets, capital campaigns or fundraising goals, the challenge is to use good design to emphasize the right information in the right place at the right time. Make complicated stuff easy to understand. And encourage the visitor to act on the information presented while having fun learning something new. Infographics are the perfect solution.

Be clear about your audience and your project priorities whether you are briefing a design staffer, an outside professional, or talking to yourself. There is a risk of going too far and ending up with a slick, glossy end product that is inappropriate for the audience your nonprofit or public agency is trying to reach.

Why should your nonprofit invest in good design? Invest in good design to advance your mission.

Megan Van Petten
CEO & President
Van Petten Group, Inc.

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