Canva for Nonprofits

How Canva unlocked the creative confidence of Plant With Purpose

Results

  • Plant With Purpose was able to scale design across the organization, reducing design turn-around from hours to just a few minutes.
  • Using templates and real-time collaboration features improved internal workflows and empowered decentralized teams to engage with donors and build trust.
  • With Canva’s Brand Kit and folder management, the marketing team seamlessly supported a brand refresh, enabling teams to communicate cohesively

About Plant With Purpose

Plant With Purpose is a Christian organization whose goal is to address two interconnected problems: preserving the planet and reducing global poverty.

The organization empowers farmers to become agents of positive change with regenerative farming and reforestation projects, which mitigate the effects of environmental degradation.

Crucially, regenerative farming’s higher crop yields also enable farmers to support their families and communities. This, coupled with savings groups, empowers people to have access to finances, and escape poverty.

This creates a virtuous circle which restores nature’s regenerative cycles and leads to human and spiritual renewal, as well as financially empowering the communities involved.

A mobile phone shows a social media post designed in Canva

Plant With Purpose uses Canva for its social media outreach

The Challenge

Headquartered in San Diego, Plant With Purpose has 39 staff members based all over the US and Canada. The nonprofit runs its restoration projects in the Americas, Asia and Africa through multilateral partnerships, with a network of over 400 people.

To support its projects, the organization decided to expand its one-person marketing team. As the team and the organization’s strategic goals grew, it became clear that new tools and processes were needed to design marketing materials, speed up project turn-around and improve internal workflows.

“When I joined the organization, the team wasn’t built to support all marketing efforts resource-wise,” says Marketing systems specialist Katherine Padgett. “We needed to create marketing comms quickly and professionally for the people who needed them, and also use the marketing team’s time better.”

In 2021 the organization completed a brand refresh, which posed an additional challenge: How could it empower staff members to design and customize content quickly, while ensuring brand consistency across that content?

“Design was a giant bottleneck,” says Christi Huizenga Renaud, VP of Marketing and Development. “Canva has helped us to break the bottleneck, allowing people on our team who have limited design training but a good eye for what looks right to take on projects.”

"We are so grateful for Canva,” says Lynne Marian, Director of Marketing & Communications. “It’s enabled us to direct more resources toward our mission of reducing poverty and environmental damage around the world."

Plant With Purpose uses marketing templates to design better and faster

The Solution

The marketing team used Canva to set up a Brand Kit and designed a suite of easy-to-use templates. This empowered people to take ownership of the design process, while protecting the nonprofit’s brand.

It didn’t take long for the design tool to become the nonprofit’s favorite.

“When we first rolled it out, five or 10 people were on Canva, ready to go. Now it’s used by 33 people across the organization,” says Katherine.

“Canva has helped people think bigger about what they can pull off,” Christi adds. “It's helped to raise the bar on our professionalism. Instead of sending out a mostly unformatted letter, we can now throw it in Canva, add pictures, logos, and a background and make it look like it ran through a design team.”

Canva interface showing Brand Kit feature

Plant With Purpose stays on-brand with its Brand Kit

Scaled marketing with templates

Serving multiple teams in a decentralized organization, the new marketing division had two main challenges to contend with. They needed to create documents that would support the organization’s needs, and make it easy for teams to use them.

With the help of Shiloah Williams, Plant With Purpose’s donor communications specialist, the marketing team designed a suite of branded templates. This included letterheads, presentations, proposals, country reports and pitches, fundraising reports, event collateral for the nonprofit’s annual gala, and social media assets.

The team also set up a Brand Kit to help keep outputs on-brand, plus a folder system to organize approved photos, illustrations, and elements for infographics.

The templates have unlocked the organization’s potential. Team members can now easily repurpose materials to suit their audiences and project needs, no matter their design experience.

“Regional reps have such personal relationships with different donor partners,” says Katherine. “With Canva they’re able to make small changes to documents, add a personal touch, and show how much they care about each specific partner.”

Plant With Purpose uses folders to keep assets organized

Building trust with donors

For any nonprofit, establishing trust and legitimacy is crucial to effective donor outreach. For Plant With Purpose Grant Writer, Emily Thome, this is her bread and butter. Canva now plays a huge role in her day-to-day work.

“Being able to let them know – ‘here's the impact that your gift is making,’ – is really significant,” says Emily. “And Canva has created a way for us to communicate really clearly to donors the impact that they're making.”

Prior to Canva, turning content into a polished report or a proposal would have taken Emily an hour.

“Now it can take as little as five minutes,” she says. “Using customizable templates helped us improve the speed at which we’re able to get comms out, while ensuring both intentionality in the design and specificity for the content”, says Emily.

Quotation mark
"Canva has made the process more enjoyable and the result is so much more professional too. It sends out a message to our donors that we are an organization they can trust - it's also a lot more fun."

Emily Thorne

Grant Writer, Plant with Purpose

Canva was the tool of choice to produce a key strategy document designed to rally donors around a common vision, Katherine says.

“Our strategic plan has us doubling our impact in terms of families we’re supporting, trees we’re planting, and other outputs by the end of fiscal year 2025. Our ‘Journey to Double’ campaign invites donor partners into this exciting phase of growth. Canva allowed us to execute our promotional materials very professionally and quickly. The team collaborated on it easily, and all the internal stakeholders were proud to show the end result to donors.”

Visual from the ‘Journey to Double’ strategic plan

Confidence to collaborate and create

Facilitating collaboration is key to the way Plant With Purpose uses Canva.

“When team members found out that they could collaborate in real-time and leave comments in the designs, they were mind-blown,” says Emily. “Comments are a really neat feature: they make editing, revising and sharing thoughts so much easier.”

One example of successful cross-team collaboration was a recent fundraiser guide for Plant With Purpose supporters.

“We collaborated on it using comments to suggest changes or ask for reviews,” says Katherine, who reveals a special love for stickers. “I probably over-use them. I can fully express myself using stickers – they’re just great.”

Ultimately, Canva empowered Plant With Purpose teams to work better across functions, and timezones, while becoming a more creative and connected organization.

One example of this is a set of Christmas cards designed by the marketing team, which regional reps were keen to use and send out to donors. “The fact that everyone was happy to customize the templates gave me so much joy. People were enjoying it, they knew how easy it was to customize the photo, add a message and even get the cards printed within Canva,” says Katherine.

“As someone who has zero technical training in design, switching to Canva was incredible,” says Emily. “I feel a lot more confident sending out content that looks professional and has visual legitimacy.”

In Katherine’s words, Canva has “empowered the organization to design what they need, and to feel excited about the quality of the end result. We now have freedom to work on more strategic organizational objectives instead of being bogged down with one-off design requests.”

“Also, it’s free for nonprofits,” she says. “It is an absolute no-brainer.”

"Canva has empowered the organization to design what they need, and to feel excited about the quality of the end result. It’s given them the tools they need to do their job, and do it well.” Katherine Padgett, Marketing systems specialist

“Canva has helped people think bigger about what they can pull off. It's helped to raise the bar on our professionalism. Design used to be a giant bottleneck. Canva has helped us to break the bottleneck.”
Christi Huizenga Renaud
VP of Marketing and Development, Plant with Purpose
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