When Board Members Get in the Way of a Great Redesign


Boards of Directors are key to the functioning of successful nonprofits. They look out for the long-term direction and fiscal sustainability of the organization and open new opportunities. They hold leadership accountable. A lot is asked of board members in terms of financial contributions, connections, and time – often for little in return except for a few networking opportunities and the satisfaction of having helped out.

However, while organizations should be grateful to their hardworking bo…


Taking Annual Reports Digital

A screenshot from the Ford Foundation 2011 Annual Report.

A screenshot from the Ford Foundation’s 2011 Annual Report.

Most nonprofits rely on annual reports to communicate insights from the previous year and articulate their intentions for the future, combining important data with human-interest stories.

Unfortunately, while other forms of storytelling have evolved over the last decade, many annual reports are still produced in print form, failing to take advantage of advances in technology and design that could make them more compelling.

Digital annua…


Update: Pro Bono Design Event

In November, I wrote a blog post about an event that connects good causes and designers for a weekend of pro bono design. My studio, Elefint Designs, has organized three of these events so far under the banner

In the past, these events were only a half day, with 10 nonprofits and 25 designers, and included a few short workshops on various design topics. For Tahoe we wanted to focus on doing a lot more for just two organizations. This allowed us to customize our teams and work…


Advice on Keeping an Open Mind When Starting on a Design Project

Good design has the power to communicate a wide variety of ideas, with many options to choose from, depending on the project and its goal.

But sometimes people make design decisions based solely on what everybody else is doing or what’s new. Deciding on the design before looking at all the possibilities can lead to a final product that fails to get the best results.

It’s challenging to picture how design can be used for communication outside of what is already familiar, but the unfamiliar is of…


Pro Bono Design Event to Focus on 2 Nonprofits for a Weekend

There are many ways nonprofits can get access to great design at little or no cost. Some design firms offer pro bono or reduced-cost help, which can be a great opportunity for nonprofits. But these services can have pitfalls. Some groups find themselves trapped in projects that are repeatedly bumped by paid clients or assigned to very junior level employees.

Another option is the increasing number of “hackathon” or “designathon” events pairing designers, developers, and nonprofit organizations, …


One-Page Scrolling Web Sites: a Great New Way to Tell a Story

Redesigning-GoodOne of my favorite ways of telling a story right now is the one-page scrolling site. While a Web site is a somewhat comprehensive showcase of everything related to an organization, certain campaigns, events, and other efforts require a different look and feel and need to stand out from the clutter. Increasingly these one-page scrolling sites are popping up to tell stories in interesting new ways.

For those who aren’t familiar, this is a flavor of micro Web site–a small site dedicated to one even…


The Magic of Finding and Presenting Compelling Data

070913-data-is-not-magicAs humans, we have a tendency to look for silver-bullet solutions to difficult problems. One of the latest manifestations of this tendency is overestimating the value of big data.

The term big data, if you are not familiar with it, describes the incredible amount of information we are now gathering and sharing, especially about human behavior. The sheer volume of data would have been unthinkable even a decade ago.

Along the arrival of all these data sets have come some equally large promises ab…


A New Trend in Design Can Help Charities Do Better Work used service design to help develop prototypes of ATM machines and smartphone apps that aim to help low-income people in Mexico create and use savings accounts. Photo courtesy of used service design to help develop prototypes of ATM machines and smartphone apps that aim to help low-income people in Mexico create and use savings accounts. Photo courtesy of

Over the past decade, we have seen many important evolutions in the field of design. Fields like “interaction design” focus on making digital and physical products easier and more desirable for people to use.  As technology has progressed, it has allowed us to design devices that adapt to how hum…


Can You Sum Up Your Charity’s Work in One Simple Tag Line?

Amnesty International has a simple and concise tag line: exposing and preventing human-rights abuses.

Some nonprofits are able to articulate what they are and what they do quickly and clearly.

Amnesty International, for example, has a simple and concise tag line that is front and center on all of its communications: exposing and preventing human-rights abuses.

It’s easy to understand what Amnesty International is and what it does. But all too often, nonprofits—and even big businesses—make t…


Why the Right Font Matters

Typography is one of the most important elements of design.

The right typeface can add the perfect look and feel to your Web site, appeal letter, or annual report. But until recently designers were constrained by a very limited choice of fonts that could be used online.  As a result, most designers relied on standard Web fonts like Arial and Verdana.

But with some exciting changes in technology, nonprofits now have more options than ever before when they’re choosing fonts for their Web sites and…