Get the Best Graphic Designer on Your Budget

Posted on Posted in Budgets, Design, Digital, Fundraising, Marketing, Technology

Get the Best Graphic Designer on Your Budget

The written and spoken word are sacred when it comes to communicating your organization’s story. Numbers are essential to show the impact of your work, and




Whether you’re developing your annual report, email campaigns, or presentations, consider this:



90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. 

(Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco)






Wow, you may never think of using stock photos and heavy text in your marketing pieces again.


That’s why choosing the right graphic designer is imperative. Your designer will be your visual storyteller, will understand how to bring a collateral piece to life, and affect your constituents and supporters to act. 


So how do you choose the right designer, especially on a limited budget? 

  1. REFERRALS. The best proof of a designer’s work is through the referral of someone you trust. Reach out to colleagues who do similar work to you and see if there's a designer they've enjoyed using. Not only can you be more assured of your choice, you’re more likely to get higher quality work at a reasonable rate right from the get go. After all, not only is the designer looking to make you happy, (s)he wants to keep your colleague happy too.


  1. CREATIVE BRIEF. Prepare an RFP (Request for Proposal) or creative brief. The brief should include all key information, including a list of deliverables you are looking for the designer to provide, any mock-ups and examples of what you’ve done in the past, and what you have in mind for the upcoming project. A brief is not only great for streamlining communications to multiple designers; it'll help you get your own thoughts organized around the project.


  1. BACKGROUND. Ask to see a list of professional affiliations and background. There are many levels of graphic designers, but not all have the experience you’re looking for. You want someone with true professional grade; someone with advanced education in visual design and a commitment to knowing what’s current around the industry. The design world changes quickly, and you want someone you can trust to deliver work that's compelling and relevant to your target audience.


  1. PORTFOLIO. Ask to see a designer’s work. How did the designer translate other organizations’ missions into something visually compelling? You’re not just checking to see how “good” a designer is in your eyes, but how relevant the designer’s portfolio of work is to what you’re looking to accomplish.


  1. PROFESSIONALISM. Choose someone who has a personal and professional demeanor. Graphic design work is a collaboration between your team and the designer. It's important that the designer be mindful of schedules, is highly communicable and accessible, and is able to take constructive criticism to achieve your goals.


  1. COMMUNICATION. When I was in corporate, one of the key functions of marketing was to
    be the middleman between the sales team and design team. Why? Because someone was needed to align the two teams to achieve a shared goal. Communication is always key, in every relationship.



Keep the project healthy by repeatedly injecting in your discussions what you’re looking to accomplish.


The graphic artist should be able to see his or her own work through the eyes of your audience. 




I recommend getting in some face-time (in person or via teleconference), before contracting. Listen carefully to responses when you’re discussing the project. Are you both speaking the same language? The designer can be the next Pablo Picasso, but if (s)he doesn't understand what you’re trying to do, it’ll be a waste of your resources.


  1. ContractCONTRACT. When you contract with the designer, get in writing that you'll have ownership of all visuals and source files. This way, you'll legally be able to use your visuals in the future on all pieces, even when not working with that designer. Be sure there is an ample number of versions/proofs included in the contract. If your Executive Director is a back and forth tweaker of materials, give the designer realistic expectations. Include language in the contract so you’re not paying every time a design is modified. As with all contracts, consult a legal and accounting professional.



By choosing the right graphic designer, you'll form a powerful relationship that can meet the needs of this campaign, and of many to come.


Looking for a graphic designer? Go ahead and LEAVE A COMMENT that includes the type of project. I can introduce you to my top 3 picks.

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