Just over a year ago, I started using Canva and it immediately became my default graphic editing application. Before Canva I had used a ton of other web-based and desktop graphics packages, including PhotoShop, PaintShop Pro, Corel Draw, PhotoScape, etc.
Now, while Canva does not in any way replace a seasoned professional image editing app like Photoshop or Lightroom, it is hands down the fastest and easiest way I’ve found to quickly create social media posts, posters, YouTube Thumbnails, etc (I was not paid to say that or to write this post).
It has become the go-to design package for all my projects and we have listed it as a recommended application for authors on Valley of Writers.
I must note here that there are a number of alternatives for Canva that you could try out, such as Crello, Easil, and Stencil, but I am not nearly as familiar with any of these as I am with Canva.
While poking around the Canva website recently, I came across this page that explains how Canva is free for nonprofits. That made me really giddy – thinking about all the nonprofits I know that struggle with branding, messaging, and both online and offline visibility. “Everyone must know about this!” I thought and so here I am doing my part to share it.
If you’ve never heard of Canva or any of the plethora of online design tools now available out there, here are a few reasons why I personally LOVE it.
It was made for people with no design skills
When Canva founder, Melanie Perkins, was at college, she took a job as a part-time tutor for students learning graphic design. She noticed how hard it was for students to master even the basics of applications like Photoshop and started wondering if it was possible to make the design process easier, to make it so simple that anyone could do it. She dropped out of college to pursue this dream.
Canva was the result of her musings. Its very foundation is the idea that design can be a breeze. I’ve introduced clients and friends to Canva and they all can’t believe how easy it is.
It has millions of elements and templates
If say you wanted to design an Instagram post in Canva, you don’t need to wonder what size to make it, just pick select the ‘Instagram post’ option, and now instead of wondering what on earth to put on it, what fonts to use, what colors to pick, etc. you are presented with thousands of templates for Instagram posts.
Pick one. Once you’ve done that you can change anything; colors, texts, images, illustrations. You can search for free stock images to use with your designs right from within Canva and import them into your design with one click. You can do the same with illustrations, shapes, backgrounds, etc. If you’re making you post a video, you have free audio to choose from, animated elements to select from, transitions, and even video clips.
You can post straight to social media, download, or share your design with others on your team
If you’re new to image editing one of the frustrating things has always been how to save your design. What format should you use? What resolution? And where on earth did I save it again!?
Then once you save it, trying to send it to someone can be a challenge; too big for email, or maybe the recipient’s organization removes attachments. Arrgghh!
Canva makes sharing and publishing your designs easy. You can connect your social media accounts and publish straight from Canva to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a ton of other platforms. You can also share a link so that other people, e.g. clients can take a look at work in progress. You can download designs to your computer, and if you have a pro account, you can add up to five different team members who can edit, comment on and publish designs that you give them access to.
Schedule your posts ahead of time and let automation free you up
This is one of my favorite aspects of Canva. The Content Planner lets you schedule all your social posts weeks ahead of time.
Do all your major social media work in one sitting and then let Canva take care of the posting. If a post fails to publish, say to Facebook, Canva sends you an email alerting you of this.
I used to have different design and scheduling tools. Now it’s all in one place, along with stock images, storage, collaboration tools, and more.
You can create and publish from your phone
I didn’t explain this at the beginning. of the article, but Canva is a web app. You normally access. it from a browser, eg. Safari, Chrome, Firefox. But it comes with a mobile companion…
Earlier this week, my wife and I were rushing off for a meeting. In-person! Imagine that. I had a social media post I needed to publish, so while she drove, I pulled out my phone, fired up the Canva app, tweaked the design, and published it to Instagram.
The power of that little app is amazing. It has saved me many a time.
Branding is easy with Canva
You can save your logos and brand colors on Canva and these are all easily accessible while you’re designing.
If you have someone else come and work on your designs, they too can see exactly what the brand fonts and color palettes are.
If you’re a designer and work for a number of clients, you can save all the different brand kits separately and access the one you need depending on the project you are working on.
Well, almost anything pertaining to your visual messaging and identity. Canva also has templates for presentations, book covers, posters, flyers, logos, videos, greeting cards, resumes, photo collages, certificates, restaurant menus, annual reports, brochures, banners, magazine covers, comic strips, lesson plans, and more.
Now that you know that a nonprofit near you can get the pro version for free. Spread the word!
Visit the Canva website for more info.
Writer | Digital Storyteller | Web Developer
I believe that every serious artist should be able to make a living from their work if they want to and I’m on a mission to find the best tools, ideas, and resources to help artists succeed. I experiment with business models, monetization ideas, and new technology in my own creative process as part of this journey of discovering.