Adobe is one of a number of organisations offering software for charities that is free or heavily reduced. Adobe offers a range of design software that can be really helpful for charities and non-profit organisations. This post explains both how you can get deep charity discounts but also how you can put this software to work within your charity. When we first wrote this post the discounts were massive. They have sadly now been reduced but the savings are still significant.
Get Adobe software at a discounted charity rate
The Adobe discount scheme is managed through Technology Trust Exchange. The discount is 60% for the first year, which gives a good amount of time to evaluate the software and then 40% each year thereafter. More details can be found here.
Naturally, there are some criteria to fulfil in order to be eligible but this is handled by TT Exchange and registered UK charities should not have any problems.
Get the most out of Adobe software in your charity
Our view is that, although they can be harder to learn in the first instance, you will be investing long-term in the creative communications of your organisation by adopting the industry standard tools. They have been with us for years and are not going away.
Assuming you’ll look into the details in a moment, and that you’re keen to get the most out of your practically-free software, we’d like to give you a few tips. We'll also offer advice on when to use an external input from an agency and what to do yourself.
1. Edit photos with Photoshop to add impact to your stories and news articles
A light touch edit can make the difference between a flat, dull snapshot and an arresting, thoughtful image to help headline an article. This is definitely something you can do yourself. A lot can be achieved with simple cropping, levels adjustment and saturation but if you’re really keen to explore more you can investigate the clone tool, the multitude of brush options and the ability to mask off areas for local adjustment.
2. Use Illustrator to create graphics for blog posts or other one-off publicity
The power of even a small graphic cannot be underestimated. Simply adding an icon to some carefully formatted typography can enable a blog post to stand out in a list in someone's RSS feed.
We recommend starting off with a standard canvas, a choice of two or three fonts and a colour palette. This can be your master document and will help you be consistent. There are countless free icon libraries available online to help make it easier (and pay-as-you-go options too).
3. Use InDesign templates to create simple stationery on brand
A design agency will be able to create templates for everything from business cards to full brochures that you can then edit yourself. We have done this recently with the Grove (see below) so that they can easily produce printed material on brand without having to come back to us for every small job.
We make use of the master page layout to lock down things like your logo, address or tagline, leaving large fields for you to drop in photos and fill in text.
Here's a leaflet we designed for the Grove, which they can edit using InDesign:
4. Unlock and celebrate amateur design in your organisation
Your staff will likely enjoy the opportunity to break away from their desks and get creative for an hour. Why not offer them the opportunity to draw up ideas for cards or posters and have your in-house designer unify them all in Adobe Illustrator with a simple logo and boilerplate. Use drawings or photos created by your supporters - like WWF did here on Pinterest.
5. Get external designers to ‘donate’ their time
Managing your brand identity strictly can often feel like an uphill battle and a lot of work. Why not consider relaxing your guard on a specific project and calling in some voluntary design talent for a poster campaign or something. Charity:Water did this with a hugely successful India campaign.
6. Call on your agency for integrated, strategic design
The reality is that owning professional tools doesn’t make you a professional. There will still be many occasions where you need external input from an agency. Professional input should be viewed as an investment. Ask yourself ‘will outsourcing this piece or work directly enable us to build our size, reputation, income or capacity?’ You can also consider the value of your time versus your money, ‘will an agency be able to do this quicker and better enabling us to focus on what we do best?’
We offer branding and design across a range of products including brand guidelines, optimised and print-ready artwork - get in touch to find out more.