For every way you communicate with your donors, whether it is through direct mail appeals, newsletters, or welcome packages, you will want to have a design that reflects your charity’s brand, captures your message and the essence of your organization.

Here are a few things to think about when hiring a designer to create these components:

1. You are ultimately responsible for the end result of your creative, so put yourself in your donor’s shoes when thinking about how they will navigate through the components being produced and therefore how you communicate that to your designer. You tell the designer what pieces need to be created.

2. There are many designers that produce excellent, high quality creative for very reasonable rates so don’t be afraid to get at least 3 or 4 quotes before deciding on whom to hire. Keep in mind that the cheapest rate will not always get you the best result. So don’t be afraid to be choosey.

3. Ensure that you ask to see some of the work a designer has produced  – as far back as three to four years and as a recent as in the past six months. You want the creative to be unique to your organization, so when looking at the designer’s portfolio, ensure that it’s not too repetitive. If possible, ask the opinions of other people in your office.

4. If the designer has worked with other not-for-profits, that is a definite bonus. Whatever the case, do ask for references. And do check those references.

5. Ensure that the designer is familiar with Canada Post guidelines when producing direct mail pieces.

6. Here are some key elements to sent to your designer:

  • A copy of your branding guidelines
  • Your logo in a format that can be reproduced (ideally a vector logo in .eps or .ai formats)
  • High resolution photos, that are ideally of your own cause in action, or if you are open to stock photos, then give direction on what to look for (you may have to source these yourself)

7. Here are some key items to include in the directions that outlines your project with all components you want created:

  • Carrier envelope – size, type (closed face or window), teaser (if there will be one), addressed admail permit if you have one
  • Letterhead if necessary – size, length of the letter that will be written, font size, font face
  • Coupon – size, text that should be included (front and back), charitable number
  • Insert (if you are including one) – size, text, photos you want included
  • If you do have a specific look in mind, especially for a newsletter for instance, then you might want to create a mock-up so your vision is clear

8. The timeline for any design can vary but a good rule of thumb is, from the time of instruction to the first version, leave anywhere from at least 3 days and up to 7 days, depending on the extent of the work. With that in mind, if your directions are clear and thorough, you will minimize the revisions needed and keep your costs down.

Design is important in all aspects of your marketing and in the way your organization is represented. When you communicate effectively with your designer, you will have some great success and wonderful creative.


Image credit: Kevin Steinhardt from Flickr via Creative Commons.