‘Designing for good’ actually works: the verdict from charities on the positive impact and value of branding

Can a strong visual identity benefit charities around the world? According to new data by 99designs by Vista, it most certainly can, with around three-quarters of nonprofits believing great design builds trust and leads to recurring donations to their causes.

The research was carried out to mark the tenth anniversary of 99nonprofits, the company’s decade-long ‘design for good’ programme that has provided more than $300,000 in professional design to charitable organisations globally. It surveyed 500 senior leaders from the nonprofit sector to gather their insights and experiences. And their feedback reveals much of what we know already, that branding matters.

In fact, over half of nonprofits admitted that they wish they’d invested more in branding and design over the past two years. Interestingly, only 26% of those surveyed had rebranded recently – half of which are already seeing an increase in revenue and engagement.

One such organisation is FlowerTalk, a Ghanaian-based nonprofit that supports and celebrates mental wellness and connection through workshops dedicated to therapy, naturopathy, mentoring, and botanical healing practices. It brought its brand to life via 99designs by Vista with merch design and a new website. “Branding is key to zoom in on the nuances of what makes FlowerTalk stand out,” says Maggie Sade Coker, founder and wellness coach. “Branding needed to be incorporated in a way that represented both my personality and the therapists and multiple disciplines that make our platform an alternative to traditional mental health.”

Elsewhere from the research, it was unanimously agreed that design builds trust – 93% of charities surveyed believe a strong brand identity has a positive impact on donor engagement. At the same time, more than two-thirds say it also increases volunteer interest.

Design also draws out donations, as the survey found that those who invested in professional design in the past two years are 50% more likely to have experienced an increase in fundraising revenue than those who didn’t prioritise their visual brand. Around three-quarters of organisations also believe a strong brand identity increases recurring donations.

But it’s not just nonprofits who benefit from branding; the design community cares, too, as 99designs by Vista’s community of creative freelancers puts purpose over profit more than ever. Around 85% said that it’s important for them to work for clients who share their values, so it’s a win-win for everyone. “Design is about showcasing a problem and solution in a way that it will make the viewer do something about it,” says Tonya-Dee Greyvenstein, a South African designer. “It’s about distributing that message to the right people and creating a need for change within individuals to make a difference in the world.”

99designs by Vista CEO, Patrick Llewellyn, adds: “Our global community of freelance designers has worked with more than 18,000 nonprofits to bring their visual brands to life across more than 135 countries. It’s incredible to see firsthand the difference they have made to communities worldwide, partnering with amazing clients championing such important causes. And with 97% of freelancers believing they can make a real social impact through their creative work, this data truly quantifies the power of great design.”

If you’d like to learn more about 99nonprofits, a global initiative from 99designs by Vista that provides free design services to organisations making a positive impact in their local communities and internationally, go to 99designs.com/99nonprofits.

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