Money For Our Movements Designing for the Left Session

August 4, 2014 |  By Design Action Collective |  Categories: Case Studies

noborder_mfom14_designactionDownload DesignAction_MFOM_Presentation from Money for Our Movements 2014, presented on August 2 in Baltimore, MD.

Here are some points made during the session about designing your Fundraising Communications

Design is not just a pretty picture and a nice font. Often good design is not even seen. Design is also the structure that communicates information that keeps people engaged and wanting to know more. It leads them to taking a certain kind of action.

Good design is functional. It takes the user or reader on a path, so their experience is accessible and enjoyable.

Design is the foundation, like a house you don’t see the frame. But whether it’s a website, or a report, the content and the pretty things rest on that foundation, like the paint and the embellishments.

Always remind your audience – ie. your donors – what you do and why it’s important. Show the stories, so donors know that their donation is being put to good work, that their donation has made a difference, and how.

Use good compelling photos ideally of your membership in action, or the clientele of your agency (not a bunch of people sitting around a meeting table talking). The photos don’t have to be literal, they should be compelling, and depict the mood you are creating, and the success of your work.

Remember white space: not only does your text need room to breathe, but it allows for balance on the page. And most importantly it allows for legibility, for the eye to rest. Even if you have background images and textures, or design elements on the page, “white space” is about leaving space around your text and images so they are not all crammed together. Margins are important!

Typography — choice font usage to enhance legibility and usability. Part of the design itself, such as in headlines, pullquotes, or the word mark and tagline of a logo.

When thinking of what graphics to use, keep in mind your audience and create the tone and message of the design appropriate for that audience. It is possible to do this for donors and for your members, and keep the essence of who you are.

Distribution — where will this communication piece be seen? As a sharable online graphic? As a report which is printed? Design according to the medium, ie. few words and bold typography for a sharable graphic and uncluttered design. A report? then you can place more content.

If you have dense text then break it up with pullquotes, photos and captions so the reader can skim the report and still get the message. In this case, keep your margins wide and airy, and space between the lines (known as Leading).

High resolution vs. low resolution — if you are printing then you always need to use high resolution photos. So a 6” x 4” photo at 300 dpi  (dots per inch) = 1800px x 1200px. So size accordingly. If you get an image off the web, then make sure it’s under Creative Commons licensing and you can get a high rez image. You can use an online photo sizer tool called

Vector vs. Raster or Bitmap — a Vector image is a shape made up of a path using an illustration program. It can be expanded without losing information, so therefore it is the highest quality file you can have. A logo should always have a vector version. Rasterized or Bitmap images are made up of a grid of pixels and will lose information as you enlarge the image. These images are usually photographic or images that have been converted in a photo design and editing program.

Logos — read our book, Know Logo. Use your logo to expand a consistent visual identity across your communications pieces for recognition of your organization.

Online presence

Questions came up in the section of the workshop on analytics about how to track information about your organization’s online presence that are not associated with your website, like facebook and twitter.

There’s a great resource from Aspiration Tech about how to set up listening boards and listen for mentions of your organization on social media and elsewhere online. Check out their online seminar and other resources!

While you are there you can also check out their enewsletters for fundraiser webinar as well! Thanks Aspiration, we know you’re listening!

Tips for working with designers to keep costs down and process streamlined.

We also participated in the Visual Communications Tools and Tips session. A lot of great information was shared. Check out the slide deck from the presentation.

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