Before you make any decisions about your visual branding, first you need to do some research. Research can help give you a general idea of what you’re looking for and provide a starting point for working with designers or picking out online graphic materials for your nonprofit. Your two major sources of inspiration should come from research into other organizations working in your mission space and from design-focused blogs and online communities.
Researching similar organizations
You probably can already name some other nonprofit organizations that share your mission and some of your values. Larger nonprofits, especially ones that have been around for a while, have spent a lot of money designing their branding, and you can learn a lot from the choices they made. Pay particular attention to their color palettes – what sorts of colors are they using ( warm, bright, cool, etc )? Colors can go a long way to reinforce and share the story of what you’re working on, and larger nonprofits with missions aligned to yours have likely already spent money figuring out what colors work best in your mission sector. Also pay attention to the general look and feel of their website – is it clean and minimal, or vibrant and crowded? Websites are another thing that large organizations have spent a lot of money on, and it’s easy to model your site on their influences to get similar results without hiring an expensive web team.
Design blogs and online communities
Designers love to share and discuss their work, and there are some great resources online that showcase finished products and share examples of good work. You can start with a simple google search, like “best nonprofit web design” or “best animal shelter websites”. Here you’ll be able to find blogs and links to examples that are popular with designers. For more specific content research, try exploring an online design community like Dribble. Dribble lets designers post recent project work for feedback, so you can search through their site for examples of color palettes, logos, website designs, and more.
Once you’ve spent time learning what sort of branding works for other nonprofits like yours, and what design choices are being celebrated in online communities, you’ll be able to put together a general idea of what you want your nonprofit branding to look like.