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The Designer’s Toolbox: Becoming Familiar with Canva

Cloud ToolsGraphic Design

Next in our Design for Non-Designers series, we explore the web-based world of Canva!

Headquartered in Australia, Canva is a graphic design platform that can be used by individuals and teams to create all manner of visual content, from social media graphics to presentations and lots more. Founded in 2012, the site integrates with mobile and offers an extensive library of design elements to support all your project needs.

Designing With Canva

In previous posts, we looked at how nonprofits can create a brand identity and develop their own brand style guides. If your organization is new to this process, Canva offers an impressive array of resources to refine your skills and learn valuable tips and strategies from experts. In fact, if you don’t have much experience with graphic design, Canva is a great place to start learning the basics!

With over 2 million images, 800k icons and 700+ fonts, the platform allows you to build any project from scratch and/or to customize existing templates using its simple drag-and-drop tool. You can also upload your own photos through your computer, Google Drive or Dropbox, editing them using preset photo filters as well as Canva’s built-in advanced editing tools. What’s more, anything you create can be integrated with Google Classroom and can be brought to life with Giphy, Youtube, and QR codes.

If this is your first time experimenting with graphic design for your nonprofit organization, the getting started page of Canva’s Design School will walk you through the platform’s basics functions, ranging from how to save your creations in various formats (e.g., image file or PDF), how to add or edit text, and how to create your first Facebook post. When you are ready to level up, the Designing with Canva page is full of short, accessible videos to help grow your design skills with tutorials on topics such as how to create a pie chart, how to choose the right font for your project, and more. To extend the learning, Design School also offers courses on hands-on topics broken down into digestible modules that you can move through at your own pace. Examples include the 12-part Social Media Mastery and Design to Communicate courses.

Enhancing Your Social Media Presence with Canva

A common use for Canva is that of making one's social media presence sleeker and more dynamic through the use of templates and animations. Whether you’re looking to increase your follower count or to raise awareness about your work, Canva can be used to create compelling stories and images across virtually all social media platforms. If you are itching to get started, below we have rounded up a series of practical tutorials on common projects that you can use to add some pizzazz to your Instagram and Facebook feeds:

How to Design a Beautiful Instagram Feed with Canva

How to Use Video to Create a Standout Story

How to Create Animated Facebook Headers with Canva

How to use video to create an engaging Facebook post

If you’d like to create compelling social media posts in a variety of other formats, Canva also offers a handy range of tools such as a colour wheel and palette generator to help you find the best colour combinations for your project, a logo maker page to design your very own logos with ease, a design size guide to help you pick the best size and ratio for your final outputs, and an interactive library to help you identify font combinations the way a professional designer would. Looking for real-world examples? The Design Tips page includes round-ups of inspiring TED talks and tons of project examples from the community!

Canva for Nonprofits

Are you a registered nonprofit? Organizations like Amnesty International use Canva to elevate campaigns, create compelling fundraising collateral, and distribute educational material to a broad audience (see Amnesty's case study to learn more about their design strategy.) If your organization is a charity registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), a Canadian Federal nonprofit registered with Industry Canada or a Canadian Provincial nonprofit registered with its corresponding provinces or territories then you may be eligible for the Canva for Nonprofit program! Registering for nonprofit status unlocks all the premium features of Canva Pro for free, accessible by up to 10 people in any organization at any given time. Find the full eligibility requirements on Canva’s dedicated page to learn more!


Does your organization leverage graphic design to enhance its outreach efforts? Have you used Canva for any of your projects? Have you experimented with social media graphics and interactive stories? Drop us a line in the comments below to share your experience with the TechSoup Canada community – we’d love to hear from you!