Toms Shoes. American Red Cross. World Wildlife Fund. The YMCA.

As you read the names of those nonprofits, could you “see” them? Each organization has embraced design to create a solid brand that you can visualize without actually seeing it.

Has your nonprofit organization recognized the power of good design?

From your organization’s logo to your printed materials to your website, a strong brand built on good design creates meaning for your donors and financial value for your organization. People today expect good design, and this expectation sets new standards for all organizations.

What your nonprofit “says” with visual design can make a huge difference with your donors. 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and 40 percent of people respond better to visual information than plain text. When your visual brand is strong, your nonprofit will have an easier time building an audience, telling your story and growing your donor base.

How can your nonprofit use good design to your fundraising advantage? Here are three ways to create a great donor experience through good design:

1. Establish a Brand for Your Nonprofit

Think of your organization’s brand as a person. What does that person say, and how do they say it? How do they act? How do they make you feel? Branding goes beyond your logo to your organization’s personality.

When it comes to the visuals you use in direct mail appeals, on your website or for social media posts, make sure each conveys your brand personality. Develop a style guide for your nonprofit that includes the following elements for your visual identity:

  • Logo standards, including primary and secondary versions of your logo
  • Naming conventions
  • Typography, specifying a font(s) that matches your brand’s personality
  • Color palette
  • Photography style

2. Strive for Visual Brand Consistency Across Channels

If you want donors to believe in your organization, you can’t send mixed messages. But when your organization looks different in print from what it looks like online or looks different from piece to piece, this is exactly what you’re doing.

Brand all of your collateral, including appeals, newsletters, brochures, emails and digital assets, with your brand colors and logo. Use the same version of your logo for each of your social media profiles. Make your organization’s collateral recognizable even when you can’t spot your logo.

3. Add Variety to Your Media Mix

Just as it’s important to use a mix of communication channels to reach your audience, mixing up the media you use keeps donors engaged.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” so incorporate compelling photos whenever possible. Use photos in your appeal letters to heighten the emotions you want donors to feel. Capture your events with great photography and post albums on Facebook.

You get bonus points when you share photos on social media that include donors and volunteers. People love to see themselves and you’ll likely see a great engagement spike.

Video is a powerful storytelling tool that your nonprofit can implement at a couple of levels. Use short-form videos that you can create with Vine and Instagram to create hype for an event, highlight your organization’s personality or show off your latest project.

Beyond these microvideos, however, it’s a good idea to have at least one professionally produced video that summarizes your nonprofit’s mission and highlights your success. Showing the problem and how you are trying to fix it provides a perfect “call to action” opportunity. And current donors love to see where their money went. When you show them through video, you almost guarantee a repeat donation.


The road to successful donor engagement starts with a brand that is authentic and clear. When your nonprofit embraces good design in your donor communications, you begin creating a donor experience that cultivates a stronger, more engaged donor base.


Wondering what fonts might best match your nonprofit’s personality? Download our “Know Your Type” typography guide to help you choose fonts that send the right message.