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Best Design Practices for a Monthly Giving Campaign

While the world of design can be a little intimidating, there are a few basic principles you can follow to ensure a clean, cohesive campaign. The following principles apply to any kind of fundraising campaign, tailored to your organization’s needs. Be sure to:

  • Use your main brand as a starting point
  • Create a mood board
  • Select strategic colors and typefaces
  • Use purposeful photography
  • List all of your design elements/needs up front

Note: a typeface is an entire family/design of type, whereas a font refers to a different weight or style within that same typeface.

THE GOLDEN RULE OF DESIGN

Form follows function. Never let your personal preferences for style overshadow the purpose of the design. As such, let the user experience determine the extent to which you need design changes and additions. Less is often more when aiming for clear visual communication.

TRY NOT TO STRAY FROM YOUR MAIN BRAND

While it’s exciting to create a whole sub-brand for a monthly giving program, it’s important to keep the two brands cohesive and complementary.

USE YOUR COLOR PALETTE AS A VISUAL BRIDGE

Using a recognizable brand color to create a new color palette is the easiest way to create cohesion. For example, the client featured in the mood boards below has a bold, recognizable teal in their main brand color palette. The two color scheme options are very different from one another, but their main brand is still featured front and center with teal as the base.

This allows for new accent colors to set the monthly giving program apart, and helps keep everything fresh. It’s easy to feel as though you’re overusing the main brand colors when every campaign uses only the same palette, so use monthly giving and other campaigns to expand. Keeping 1-2 main brand colors will ensure the color palettes for various campaigns over time stay focused and purposeful.

USE TYPEFACES FOR COHESION AND EXPERIMENTATION

It’s a great practice to take either the main title font or body font from your main brand as the title/body of the monthly giving program, as you should with color. It’s more fun to play around with title typefaces because they can be more embellished, playful, and intricate than the body copy.

As you work to create a cohesive design, keep these tips in mind:

  • Body copy should always be easily read in black and white
  • While smaller type often looks more sophisticated, be considerate of those who require larger type
  • Choosing a body font that will be the same in print and web is a great way to keep cohesion across all media in a campaign
  • Title copy can be much less straightforward, and can update the tone of the overall campaign design

In the examples above, you’ll notice the fonts vary greatly between Option 1 and Option 2. This gives each option its own character and opportunity to set itself apart from the main brand. It’s important to pick a font for your monthly giving campaign that sits nicely alongside your own brand.


“Friend of Sally” is the monthly giving program for Walk With Sally. They share the same dark blue, but by differing playful typefaces, they accentuate the difference between the monthly giving program and the main brand.

CHOOSE PHOTOGRAPHY THAT SUPPORTS WHAT YOU ARE COMMUNICATING

It’s always best to use your own photography. Implementing high-quality and high-resolution images of your impact can make all the difference in good vs. great marketing. If you can’t afford a professional photographer at every event or program, aim to have one shoot a year to refresh your photos. This way, you have a handful of professional photos that can be used across all media channels, and supplemented by lower-resolution (but hopefully not lower quality!) images.

Some of these alternatives should get you started:

  • Use stock photography (sparingly!). Again, recommending you utilize your organization’s own photos, oftentimes in the background of a webpage or if the image is simply setting the tone for a page or campaign
  • Use a phone camera on site
    • Ensure the lighting is on your subject without shadows
    • Hold the camera still to avoid blurring, even using a flat surface to help
    • Try to capture the whole subject in the frame
  • Think about what is in the background, and that the best photos have the subject aligned on the left, middle, or right third of the image size
  • A candid photo that captures a genuine smile will emote more than a perfectly staged photo that feels static
  • Always trust the feeling you get when looking at a photo, chances are other people will feel that too
MAKE A LIST OF ALL YOUR DESIGN NEEDS UP FRONT

This list will encompass what photography and graphics you’ll need throughout the campaign, so you can best prepare. Map out your social engagements, email journeys, and website needs. Let this guide your design decisions for how robust your campaign brand guidelines come together.

With your list, donor personas, and these basic design principles, you are well on your way to a cohesive and successful monthly giving program design. When in doubt take cues from your main brand, and don’t be afraid to pick something trendy. With campaigns, monthly or otherwise you’re able to diverge from the main brand without diluting your full brand. Experiment with 2-3 options in mood board form to get a sense of different themes and pick the one that suits your donor base.

Looking for guidance on the process of creating your monthly giving program from start to finish? Sign up for CauseMic Academy to learn to launch or reboot your monthly giving program in 90 days!

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