5 Graphic Design Trends for Nonprofits to Watch in 2024

AI has opened the floodgates for design trends we’ll see in 2024. Three key elements have come together to create a new trend in which “more is more” – design can now be generated fast, for relatively cheap, and with excellent quality. Get ready for a year of creativity overload!

Graphic design is constantly evolving and 2024 is shaping up to be a year for some major market-driven trends. The desire for excess, general adoption of AI, and the ability to generate complex ideas quickly (for free!) is a momentum-fueled trifecta that’s going to be worth watching! Take heed – and hope –from these burgeoning design tactics.

When it comes to staying current, knowledge is power. Trends help us stay in tune with how people are reacting to old styles, but they also give us inspiration to try new things. And while trends are important to track and can be fun to play with – they should not be the centerpiece of your brand identity.

Knowing your own brand personality first gives you a clear lens to view trends and know which ones are right or wrong for your nonprofit. Not all trends are right for every personality! And new tactics could actually cause more confusion if they’re not aligned with an org’s identity. Your nonprofit does not need to adopt all of these trends and, in fact, probably shouldn’t!

If you’re looking to refresh or rebrand your nonprofit next year, these trends should not be used to replace your nonprofit’s unique strategy and positioning. These are notes for how the market is changing and will most likely change again in the near future!

1. Maximalism

AI is not going away any time soon and is reflected in almost all of these trends. One of the biggest pros to the platform is the ease with which you can generate bold backgrounds or elaborate designs. What used to take weeks to illustrate and customize can now be done with the push of a button. 

Forget “less is more” and get hyped for the idea that “more is more” in 2024. This coming year will be a design renaissance of bold colors and patterns for the sake of visual excess. We already started seeing this trend in Spotify’s Wrapped graphics, but next year will be filled with exploring how far designers can push the trend while also staying true to their brand. 

Tips for designing to the MAX:

  • Choose a dominant color to help tie your brand with the design. This should be an accent color that your audiences are already familiar with.
  • Abstract shapes and gradients can help integrate existing brand colors, but give them a modern feel.
  • Canva has an entire category dedicated to the maximalism style, check out their templates here!

2. Embrace the Grid

Keeping maximalism in mind, many nonprofit brands will embrace a gridded design to help “contain” the noise and give your design elements a clear hierarchy. Usually when designers use a grid, there’s an invisible layout behind text and images that helps form an implied structure, but next year designers will show the lines and how they’re breaking the rules. Again, if “more is more,” then the choice to show the grid behind the layout and outline image boxes is just another design strategy to add to the overall maximalist style. 

Ways your nonprofit’s brand can embrace the grid:

  • Aligning your text along the left edge will help your design feel more structured, creating an implied gridline.
  • Take your headline font size extra-extra-large to contrast with smaller paragraph copy. 
  • Start with a line around every design element in your graphic, then pull back. 

3. Moving Type

Digital design offers so much more flexibility – especially when it comes to showing off your nonprofit’s personality in unexpected ways. Paired with the idea of excess, there are some simple and cheaper ways to add surprise and delight into your brand for online visitors. We can enhance storytelling and brand personality through motion – especially with dynamic typography. Again, if “more is more,” then why does a logo or headline have to be still? Show off your brand personality with whimsy!

Tips for using moving type in your designs:

  • You can animate text right in your Canva Pro account, get the details here!
  • Start by adding a little movement to your logo online – Squarespace, WordPress and Linkedin all support GIF files, which are technically images that you can add looping motion to (see examples above).

4. Sustainability

Just because we want excess in the digital world does not mean we create excess in our physical world. There’s a greater emphasis than ever on eco-friendly materials and ways to rethink how our organization is minimizing its effect on the planet. But going green doesn’t have to mean boring design; there’s a new wave of eco-friendly color printing and sustainable paper options available to help your design go further. 

For your next conference or event, ditch the tchotchkes or brochures for a more innovative and sustainable design. This is great news for nonprofits because it’ll save on printing costs, but will also push us to be more memorable and strategic in how we communicate. 

Ways to build sustainability into your nonprofit:

  • Make a list of collateral that’s due for a reprint next year – are there any pieces you could switch to recycled paper or remove altogether? Landing pages are a great alternative to a printed brochure and you can switch the info to fit different events and audiences. 
  • Does your org have sustainability certifications? If so, it’s time to tout your clout! Place that certification badge on your website’s footer or About page to back up your great work.
  • Instead of printing new business cards, consider digital business cards like Apple’s NameDrop or Hi Hello. Your nonprofit will look tech-savvy AND it’ll save some paper. 

5. Fantastical Photography

This trend is a little controversial since AI can also be used to bend reality, but in my opinion that makes it an even more important trend for your nonprofit to be aware of! In spite of AI-generated photos, there’s still a great need for raw and unfiltered photography – probably in an effort to make real photos seem even more authentic. Paired with maximalism, this trend will thrive. 

Photos will feel more surreal or fantastical than we could ever dream up with a photoshoot. But how does this hyper-reality fit into nonprofit work? Think about the problem your nonprofit sets out to solve and dial that “picture of success” wayyyyy up! What does freedom look like? What about education? Equity? Let your imagination take off!

Tips for amping up your photography in 2024:

  • Use AI to help your photos feel whimsical – really heighten a feeling, paint a picture of success, or push on a pain point. 
  • Label your photography – whether it’s made with AI or shot by a photographer. Trust is still front and center for building your brand, so share your sources! 

Trends ride on a pendulum that swings in response to the market – typically going from one extreme to the other from year to year. For better or worse, AI is changing the way creative professionals design – taking the limits off of what we can imagine. What used to take weeks of production work can now be generated in an instant, so 2024 promises to be a year of pushing imagination and design to the extreme.

Many nonprofits will shy away from these trends, but I really think there’s an opportunity to experiment with them in ways that still feel on-brand for your organization and even increase donations through visual storytelling. As you prepare for your next campaign, gala, direct mail appeals, or giving day – consider how you could use one of these 2024 trends to stand out and grab people’s attention!

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