AFSP designs in Canva
CANVA FOR NONPROFITS

How Canva helped American Foundation for Suicide Prevention save months of design work

Results

  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) scaled Canva across the organization, empowering local teams to design while ensuring brand consistency.
  • Using templates, brand kits and real-time collaboration features has enabled AFSP to become more agile and improve workflows.
  • Adding Canva to the design mix has helped AFSP save 200 hours of design work for its community programs and events each year.

About American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)(opens in a new tab or window) is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, including those who have experienced a loss. AFSP creates a smart culture about mental health through public education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide.

Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, with a public policy office in Washington, DC, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, with programs and events nationwide.

 AFSP has been engaging communities since 1987.

AFSP has been engaging communities since 1987.

The Challenge

Over the past 10 years, AFSP has experienced significant growth, expanding from 30 staff across 15 chapters to a workforce of 160 people across 72 chapters.

“Our volunteers’ passion and dedication to the cause enabled the organization to grow quickly and we were tasked with meeting a higher demand on marketing resources to support their local community efforts,” says Jonathan Dozier-Ezell, Senior Director of Digital Communications.

The organization’s rapid expansion meant an ever greater need for marketing resources and customization of design resources to meet community needs, a demand that often exceeded the capacity of its small communications department.

To support this on-demand need, local chapters would often design material on their own, with little creative design support from the communications department. This created inconsistency in brand guidelines across chapters, potentially weakening AFSP’s brand.

“We continually try to live by our AFSP brand guidelines and this requires that we remain consistent in our look and overall feel, and that we portray a hopeful and welcoming tone in all that we produce. Without the help of Canva, we are not staffed to support our full chapter network with all of their everyday needs. Canva enables us to do that today,” says Jonathan. “Adding Canva to our marketing toolbox allows us to maximize our capabilities and gives our chapter network more room to customize based on local needs.”

AFSP uses Canva to design across digital and print

AFSP uses Canva to design across digital and print.

The Solution

The organization created PDF templates but quickly faced technical limitations with design and usability by chapter staff and volunteers. “It wasn't an ideal workflow or process for the comms team or the end user,” Jonathan says, because editing and approving each document proved frustrating for users.

AFSP needed a solution that was scalable and user-friendly for decentralized teams with varying levels of design skills.

“Canva really seemed like the best option,” says Jonathan. “It’s the best way we’ve found to expand our message while making sure that we remain consistent and that everything from the organization looks like it came from us,” he says. “We now incorporate Canva in all of our programs in some way.”

In the three years that AFSP has been using Canva, the organization has successfully unlocked the creativity of its staff and volunteers while making workflows more time- and cost-efficient.

Canva templates enabled AFSP to scale design efficiently

Canva templates enabled AFSP to scale design efficiently.

1. Scaled outreach with templates

AFSP leads over 450 community walks every year to raise money for mental health and suicide prevention. To promote the events and engage communities, the organization has to produce a large amount of advertising material. Decentralizing design was the only way to meet the demand.

“We were faced with two choices: creating 400 versions of everything, or using templates”, says Jonathan. “And this is really where Canva stepped in: we designed templates, put them on Canva, and let our staff run with them to update information such as location, date and time.”

Empowering local chapters to take ownership of the design process proved a successful strategy, ensuring a fast turn-around while freeing up time for employees to focus on core activities.

AFSP ensures consistency with a Canva Brand Kit

AFSP ensures consistency with a Canva Brand Kit.

2. Improved brand management

Another benefit of using templates was to ensure that outputs were cohesive and in line with the organization’s brand.

For any nonprofit, maintaining a consistent look and feel is key to establishing trust and legitimacy with donors.

In addition to providing templates for its local chapters, AFSP set up a Brand Kit that everyone in the organization could use for their design projects.

“Bringing together all the elements of our branding–our typefaces, logos and colors–in a way that’s easy for folks to access and use has given our staff the tools to promote AFSP in a way that is consistent with the brand,” says Jonathan.

This approach was so effective that AFSP now uses Canva for most of its projects, from social media to business cards, flyers, posters, table tents and door hangers, to name just a few.

Quotation mark
"Canva is the best way we’ve found to expand our message while making sure that we remain consistent and that everything from the organization looks like it came from us. We incorporate Canva in all of our program and event marketing efforts."

Jonathan Dozier-Ezell

Senior Director of Digital Communications

3. Improved collaboration and time management

Using Canva has resulted in improved collaboration and smoother workflows.

“Local chapters are now more agile and they’re not waiting for the communications department to design every single piece or modify information,” says Jonathan.

“Of course, we’re always available to comment and provide suggestions,” he adds. “The commenting feature is really useful for that as we don’t have to set aside time for meetings or write long emails–saving additional time and resources per project.”

Asked to quantify the impact that Canva has had on AFSP, Jonathan talks about the precious time Canva has saved.

“If we take our community walks as an example, Canva has helped us save at least 30 minutes per walk spent on designing advertising and marketing materials. Multiplied by 450 walks, that’s at least 200 hours saved. It’s weeks and weeks of work,” says Jonathan.

Another example is the time saved on refreshing the brand for the community walks.

“The entire rebrand process would have taken us three months, from settling on the visual direction to producing all of the materials across digital and print,” says Jonathan. “With Canva, all of that took about a month.”

The benefits are clear: “We’re able to focus on creating stuff that matters rather than spinning our wheels to keep the status quo going.”

"Canva helped us save at least 200 hours of design work for our community walks every year. It essentially acts as an extra employee or two."
Jonathan Dozier-Ezell
Senior Director of Digital Communications
Features Mentioned

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