I’ll start off by saying that this is not meant to be a rant about how disorganized our clients are, not at all. Most requests are made late simply because design and communications projects are not always top of the to-do list. They are seen as “have-to-do’s”, whereas we see them as fun and challenging (but very rewarding). Most nonprofits don’t have a clear understanding of how marketing and communications projects are birthed, so they often don’t allocate enough time to get them done.

Here is some basic information to gather for preparing your creative team on any of your fundraising or marketing projects, big or small. Get all this written down before you contact your designer or marketing consultant. It will help you and your internal team agree on the goals and objectives for the project and the work will go more smoothly for everyone.

  • Project Summary: Describe what is to be created (Example: Fall Direct Mail Campaign to 5,000 existing donors, asking them to switch to a monthly donation plan).
  • Project Goals: Describe the reason the project is being undertaken and what goals are to be achieved by completing the project.
  • Audience: Describe who you are speaking to and who you want to respond? Be as specific as possible. Outline Primary, Secondary and Tertiary targets.
  • Competitive Activity: Describe what other organizations, events and/or services you compete with. How does your brand or service compare in strict offering terms? What problem are you solving that your competitors are not?
  • Proposition: Describe what is the single key message you want to communicate to the target audience.
  • Summary of Ideas: Describe your initial ideas and thoughts (brainstorm).
  • Items Needed/Assets available: List the items you will need in order to complete the project, whether they already exist or not (example: strategy, copy writing, photography, etc.)
  • Art Style Examples: gather examples of the kind of artistic style you like. Provide brands, websites, campaigns or brochures you like or aspire to.
  • Brand Standards and Mandatory Items: provide the brand standards, logo usage rules or any other design guidelines you have in place that must be followed. If you don’t have a brand guideline, have one made immediately!
  • Key Dates: List all the main delivery dates. (Example: Draft due, print or mailing date, website launch, board meeting dates for decisions, etc.) Don’t forget to plan for review stages, approvals and corrections.

Planning ahead will save your organization time, money and sanity. It will also improve your working relationship with your creative team, whether it’s in-house or not. If you’d like us to send you our Creative Brief Template and other useful planning tools, contact [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help!

Written by Kim Fuller