Not Enough Clients? Get More by Donating Your Services

Not Enough Clients? Get More by Donating Your Services

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This article has been contributed by Todd Turner.

As a graphic design company, increasing your exposure is crucial to your success. It’s only through getting your name out there that you can find clients, and therefore success, as your business grows.

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If you are looking for creative ways to drop your name without resorting to traditional advertising venues or spec work, consider using some of your graphic design talents to help with a local nonprofit’s fundraiser, and watch as more people become aware of what you have to offer.

Graphic Design

Why Fundraising Is a Good Venue for Your Talents

Fundraising is a good venue for the talents of a graphic design professional because companies taking on a fundraising campaign need professional, effective graphics. If their logo, flyer or website is lacking the right graphic touch, they are going to struggle to raise their target amount of money.

These are the companies that need your services. Consider this fact: according to Charity Net USA, today’s nonprofits are in desperate need for a professional brand identity; they say this to nonprofits:

“There is nothing less professional than not having a professional identity. If you do not establish a clean, high-quality, and consistent look and feel to your materials, you will have a much more difficult time gaining the trust of potential donors — and signing them on to support your cause.”

Working With Designer

As a graphic designer, you are perfectly poised to meet this need. Fundraising tends to target more affluent businesses and customers, as these are the ones with the extra money to spend on the fundraising items.

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By donating your graphic design services to a fundraising campaign that is aiming for your target market, you will automatically begin increasing brand exposure to the services you offer. 

So why does donating your graphic design talent work well in this way? The answer is two-fold:

  • Charitable organizations are in desperate need of your services to make their organization successful.
  • The audience at charitable fundraisers is the audience you ultimately want to reach with your graphic design service.

How to Maximize Your Donation

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Before you donate your services to a fundraiser, stop and think of the value of what you are offering, and the potential return on that investment.

  • Does the audience for the fundraiser provide something you can benefit from?
  • Will the donation of your time and creative talent bring a potential return?

Here are some steps you can take to maximize your donation and increase the visibility of what you have offered:

  • Include your branding. If you are going to donate your work, ask to have your company name or logo included on the promotional materials.
  • Ask to be listed as a sponsor. While you may not be providing a financial donation as a sponsor, you are donating your time and talent.
  • Use your invitation as a networking opportunity. As a sponsor, you should be given an invitation to the fundraising event. Use this as a chance to see who among the organization could use your services.
  • Network with the staff as you create the design. Impress with your work, and you might find that they come back to you for a paid job in the future.
  • Hand out business cards liberally, both at the event and to the staff.
  • Ask and you will receive. Ask the organization’s staff to spread the word about your services.

These steps will improve the visibility of your donation and your opportunities to use that donation to gain future business. Soon you will reap the rewards that come from a name that is well known.

Consider the Other Benefits of Donating

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Donating your graphic design talent to a fundraising event provides benefits outside of the chance to market. Consider the inspiration you can get from a new, unique project. When you are working on something that is not for a paying customer, you can let your creative juices flow.

Consider trying out some new colors or new layouts as you work on the fundraising design. Your donation gives you a chance to break away from your normal line of work.

Donating your time and talent can also increase your confidence. Seeing that people love and benefit from your designs is a huge morale booster. The pressure is low and the returns are great when you volunteer your services.

Design Swag

Choose the Organization Well

When your graphic design renown begins to grow, you will find that there are numerous people and organizations looking for a freebie. Your time is valuable, so don’t give it away unless you stand to gain something in return. Make sure you are carefully choosing the organizations you work with. Here are some guidelines:

Consider Audience size

First, make sure the fundraiser has a large enough audience. You need to be certain that your donation is going to get the word out about your services. You need a large number of eyes on the project you produce for the company.

Consider Audience type

If the organization’s audience would have little need of your graphic design services, look elsewhere for a chance to donate.

Align Skills & Goals

Finally, choose an organization that is a good fit for your style and technique. If you specialize in logo design but the company wants a complete website graphic design overhaul, you may not do your best work. If you are donating your time and talent, you want to enjoy the process.

With all of the benefits that this type of donation brings to your graphic design business, you really have no reason not to donate. Take the time to find the right organization, and create a beautiful design for them. In the end you will have the chance to deliver excellent work that earns you future paid jobs.

Todd Turner is the President of LogoMagnet, a custom design magnet company that produces and distributes magnets for schools, non-profits, sports teams and more.

7 thoughts on “Not Enough Clients? Get More by Donating Your Services”

  1. I’ve personally never been compensated (monetarily or through future leads) for my charity design work despite being told they loved my work.. so I’m always surprised to hear this being recommended as a way to get new clients. I think most charities who seek freebies tend to stick with freebie work, but maybe that’s just my experience. I agree though, it’s a good way to build your portfolio if just starting out…and it’s for a good cause regardless. Anything beats spec work for cheap clients.

    • Hey Derek,

      I believe not being compensated via future leads probably comes down to what is mentioned in the article above… you really need the exposure publicized. It’s all well and good that you do great design work but if your brand is not out there being seen, no one will be able to contact you.

      • Thanks for the replies Jacob and Prestop…I agree with both of you. There is some great advice in the article. I suppose I just haven’t had much success with the greet and meets and/or name in credits. I’m sure that has something to do with being more introverted or primarily doing work for smaller local charities who can’t offer much. I think the tips in the article are more applicable for socialites working with mid to large size charities; though it’s good advice all around.

        This is an interesting subject for sure. I’d be very interested in Todd writing a follow up article, maybe detailing the specifics of how he has used charitable work to garner leads. I’d love to read it and learn more on this.

    • I think having your brand name on your donated designs is enough to get you some future leads, but as Jacob mentioned, it all comes down to what is mentioned in the article. Important points are: the size and type of audience. Does your target market share any similarities with your nonprofit client’s target market? Things like this matter.

      This is a really good advice, Todd. Great Work.

  2. Worthy content to read and to follow.It will surely have positive impact on all the readers. Excellent writing. Loved it.

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