Whether your nonprofit has a dedicated team of 50+ people, or is just one passionate volunteer, additional resources are always needed, or at the very least, welcomed. This is why for the month of February, I’m rounding up a list of free tools and resources that can help you spruce up your projects and get your work done effectively!
First up are freebies* that can help your marketing and communications team create beautiful designs. These browser-based tools come ready with pre-made templates that you can easily customize, and a plethora of stock photos and graphics in their library - enabling you to create a piece that is truly unique to your nonprofit.
*Editor's note: Thanks to community member. Jenn, for reminding us of Adobe Spark! I've added it to the top of the list since it's more than just a graphics editor (i.e., with Spark, you can create web pages and videos in addition to images)
1. Adobe Spark
If you need a one-stop-shop to create quick and professional marketing materials, look no further than Adobe Spark. On it’s free plan, you can easily create professional images, landing pages (hosted on Adobe’s servers) and even simple videos to promote your nonprofit’s next event or fundraiser. It’s also important to note that Spark’s storage is separate from other Creative Cloud products, so if you have a team or individual CC membership, projects in Adobe Spark are not counted towards your monthly storage quota. The only thing to watch out for if you’re using the free plan, is that your creations will come with the Adobe Spark watermark (bottom-right corner or last frame in videos). You can manually remove it, but if you want to freely design without watermarks, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. To use Adobe Spark, you can create an account or login using your Google, Facebook, Apple or Adobe ID.
2. Design Bold
Design Bold is one of the few tools I’ve used that allows you to start designing without the need to create or log into an account. Of course, you’ll eventually need a login if you want to download your image (which you can easily do via your Google, Facebook or Twitter account). However, providing users with the ability to design right away makes Design Bold the best choice if you need to create something beautiful and professional real quick. It supports the standard export formats (JPG, PNG and PDF) and is quite generous with its storage - up to 2 GBs on the free plan.
Desygner comes packed with hundreds of hi-res photos, graphic elements, templates and great collaboration features. From your workspace, you can choose to add co-designers or followers to individual projects, add comments, embed/share your project online and manage privacy settings. You’ll need to create an account or login (via your Google or Facebook account) to start designing, but once you’re in, you can create and save unlimited designs, and export them in the standard formats (JPG, PNG and PDF).
4. Gravit Designer
Gravit is a comprehensive vector-based graphics editor that’s best suited for creating clean and more advanced designs. Although the free plan is a bit lacking in cloud storage (up to 500 MB), supports PDF exports only, and has a small number of templates available, the sheer amount of control and features it provides to its users makes it the ideal online tool for creating designs from scratch. Sign up is required if you want to use Gravit online (or simply login using your Google or Facebook account), and you have the option to download and install Gravit to your computer.
With Crello, you can quickly create static or animated images for social media, web and more! While there are only a handful of free animated templates, you can design your own simple animation from scratch using icons and images from Crello’s library. Once you’re happy with your work, you can download your animation as a GIF or MP4. Easy peasy!
The golden standard of online graphic editors, Canva boasts thousands of templates, graphic elements and video to meet all of your marketing needs. Canva also offers a robust learning centre through its Design School, which I highly recommend nonprofits to take advantage of as they’re free, easy to use (e.g, step-by-step guide on Building a Brand Kit) and chock full of useful tips (e.g., Canva's free course on Graphic Design Basics). To use Canva, simply create an account or sign in using your Google or Facebook account. Free users can enjoy up to 1 GB of storage, and it supports standard export formats (JPF, PNG, PDF, and MP4 for video).
BONUS: High quality source materials
All these browser-based programs are great, but if you prefer to use your desktop graphics editor, such as Photoshop or GIMP, to create your designs, then take advantage of these high-quality, public domain source materials:
- Hi-res photos: Burst, Pixabay or Unsplash
- Graphic Design: Freebiesbug, Pixel77
- Fonts: Font Squirrel, Google Fonts
In the next February Freebies post, we’ll look at a few tools and resources that can help your program staff stay on top of tasks and projects. Stay tuned!