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Designing Change: How Non-Profits Harness the Power of Design for Impact

Mission-Driven Design

In the dynamic world of non-profit organizations, effective design plays a pivotal role in driving impact, fostering engagement, and amplifying outreach efforts. Many strategic organizations have established themselves in capital cities, like here in Harrisburg, PA. In capital cities, nonprofits find themselves surrounded by a diverse ecosystem of like-minded organizations, government agencies, think tanks, and businesses. This concentration fosters ample opportunities for networking, collaboration, and coalition-building. Whether it’s partnering on initiatives, sharing resources, or collectively addressing common challenges, the collaborative environment of a capital city enhances the impact and reach of non-profits. Cross Creative is passionate about supporting our local community of changemakers, so join us as we explore why design matters for non-profits and how it can elevate their mission-driven initiatives.

Establishing Brand Identity

Design serves as the cornerstone for building a strong brand identity that resonates with stakeholders. Nonprofits understand the importance of consistent visual branding in conveying their missions and values.

We were fortunate to have worked for Habitat for Humanity on two different website projects. One for Habitat for Humanity of Colorado and Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley. Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit housing organization working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. Their branding includes a vibrant blue and green color scheme, straightforward typography, and visuals that highlight community and collaboration. 

Effective Communication

Visual storytelling through design enables non-profits to effectively communicate their impact and connect with their audience on an emotional level. Organizations leverage compelling design to raise awareness and advocate for social change.

Cross Creative crafted messaging for Steven Donziger’s fight against Chevron’s pollution in the Amazon. Donziger helped Indigenous and farmer communities in Ecuador win a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron. Retaliation included nearly three years of house arrest and imprisonment. Chevron also revoked his law license and confiscated his passport. Our design used powerful visuals and emotive language to highlight this urgent need for President Biden’s intervention.

Enhancing Visibility and Awareness

In a competitive landscape, design plays a crucial role in enhancing visibility and raising awareness for non-profit causes. Smart organizations utilize strategic design in their marketing and promotional materials to amplify their reach and engage the community in the cause.

The nonprofit J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) undertook a rebranding initiative to better reflect its innovative spirit and reinforce its status as a global leader in genomic and bioinformatics research. We centered the rebranding around the theme of the “Foundation of Innovation,” inspired by the institute’s state-of-the-art building that embodies scientific vision, purpose, and technology. By creating thoughtful and visually compelling marketing and promotional materials, we successfully elevated JCVI’s brand, boosting its recognition and impact within the scientific community.

The original JCVI logo had a lot of brand equity. We wanted to carry that over into the new logo.
Old JCVI Logo
There are plenty of examples where the acronym JCVI is used in the company’s lexicon and within the industry—this arrangement makes it official.
New JCVI Logo

Engaging Stakeholders

Engaging donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries requires thoughtful design strategies that inspire action and foster meaningful connections. Nonprofits create engaging websites with interactive designs to facilitate mentorship opportunities and support their missions.

We designed the websites for both the James Madison Fund and the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation to enhance stakeholder engagement and support their missions. These sites feature interactive elements, clear navigation, and compelling visuals that appeal to donors, volunteers, and educators. Our thoughtful design strategy, utilizing Adobe Creative Cloud software like Illustrator, Photoshop, and the rapid prototype tool Adobe XD, allowed us to quickly iterate and find solutions that resonate with the audience. This approach facilitates mentorship opportunities and fosters meaningful connections, driving each organization’s mission forward.

Maximizing Resources

Design doesn’t have to break the bank for non-profits; strategic investment and collaboration with creative professionals can yield significant returns. By leveraging cost-effective design solutions and partnering with organizations like Cross Creative, nonprofits can maximize their resources and amplify their impact.

We worked with the International Institute for Restorative Practices within their modest budget to create an evergreen event theme for their “World Conference.” Through our unique discovery process, we developed a cohesive event look with staying power, allowing them to recycle the theme each year. This strategic approach not only saved resources but also ensured a consistent and recognizable brand for their annual event.

We exhaust various options to ensure we land on symbols that resonate with the client's goals

As Cross Creative, we encourage nonprofits to work with us to prioritize design as a strategic tool for driving positive change and creating lasting impact. Let’s continue to collaborate, innovate, and design a better future for all.