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Wishing for an in-house design team? A hiring solution for growing nonprofits

Do you have a long design to-do list? Wishing for a design team to help you grow? Learn how fractional hiring can boost your nonprofit's creative capacity while keeping costs down.

Are you a small and mighty team with a long design wishlist? Hiring a fractional design team with digital expertise may be the solution you’re looking for.

A fractional design team offers the best of all worlds: full integration with your team to be aware of projects, workflow and needs, design and technology leadership, and a cost-effective solution to expanding your team’s capacity. 

A bento box image with boxes highlighting a collection of work including impact report design, research report design, new podcast promotion asset design, adding a pop-up signup form to a website gaining dozens of new subscribers in a few weeks, modifications to a metric report to answer data questions about a website, and more.

As a showcase of what our fractional design team can do, here is a collection of work we’ve completed recently - with just one client. These projects became a reality because we were working as a dedicated and integrated part of the team.

In this article we will look at the impact that can be made with having a team ready to bring to life design needs that can support your organization’s growth. We will also look at the challenges of a having a lack of creative leadership readily available and how fractional hiring can help. 

We work with small and mighty nonprofit teams that want to grow. Here’s what we see every day.

The reality for many small and mighty teams in the social sector is having design leadership let alone a full design team on staff is often out of reach. Budget may be the main issue, but even if you have the financial means you might not have the work to keep full-time staff busy all the time.

So, you hire various contractors, use pro-bono work through board members, or do it yourself with something like Canva. Many times the things you’d like to get done just can’t happen because DIY is not an option and the resources are not available as quickly as you need them. And added to all the roles your team has to fill, you have to be a creative leader, too. At best you try, but this is not your expertise.

The challenges from the lack of creative leadership

There are three common challenges that can arise from not having creative leadership as part of your regular team. You likely know them well.

  • Fragmented branding that weakens nonprofit identity. Team A did a great job with your logo and branding, but Team B for your website only did so-so. Then Team C with your annual report was nice but introduced new design treatments that don’t follow your style guide. And what you DIY’d with Canva templates, well, they look like Canva templates. Different levels of quality and inconsistent presence are a challenge. They won’t build the trust required and the confidence you crave to inspire the supporters you need.
  • Lack of ability to adapt to changing strategies and opportunities that reduces impact. The ability to adapt to new strategic opportunities is essential. Without creative direction and a team to act on these changes, nonprofits risk missing opportunities. Imagine an idea for a new campaign inspired by something timely has everyone excited. Having design resources at the ready to create new assets to bring the campaign to life gives the idea a chance to make an impact. Otherwise, you’d use stale or misaligned assets that lessen impact or not do the campaign at all.
  • So much time and money is wasted hiring, onboarding, and discovering. Think about all the effort spent during an RFP process. Then, when you hire this new team, they need to get to know you. You have to answer all their questions about who you are and what you do, again. Rightfully, they need to spend time getting acclimated to all you do and have. All this repeats the next project you have to hire a new team for. This is time, energy, and money away from executing on new strategic ideas.

If you want to solve these issues, keep hiring costs down and productivity and consistency high, let's explore what a fractional team can do for you.

What is fractional hiring all about?

A fractional resource is typically a seasoned professional who joins your organization on a part-time basis. Unlike a full-time hire, a fractional expert works with you for a set number of hours or days per month. They bring specialized skills to your team without the cost of a full salary and benefits.

  • They operate like a member of your team. They will help plan, discuss, and engage with other team members and stakeholders.
  • They can scale up or down their commitment if your work needs change over the course of the year.
  • They are in it for the long haul. They value and have an interest to be part of your team and your team's success.
  • Fractional staff have a degree of exclusivity. There are only so many organizations they can support at a given time.
  • They have sector experience and expertise that matters for your work.
  • More cost effective than hiring full-time.

Creative direction AND a team to get beautiful work done

We believe a fractional model is a great way to build your creative capacity to meet these challenges in a more cost effective way. Having dedicated creative leadership is critical but not enough. We approach fractional hiring a little differently. We include creative direction alongside a team with a wide range of design expertise. You get both direction and execution for just the right amount of work you need, often for less than the cost of a single full-time hire.

What you’ll see with our fractional design team

  • Consistency and Quality: As brand stewards, we help your design projects deliver a consistent brand expression, everywhere.
  • Expertise: Creative direction and execution to address branding, annual reports, fundraising event and campaign collateral, web design and development, and more. Our focus on supporting teams in the social sector enhances our speciality. Partnership with common tools including Mailchimp, Fundraise Up, Givebutter, along with deep knowledge of email marketing personalization, and data integration with Zapier and Make are important extras.
  • Efficiency and Focus: No repetitive and time consuming project administration approvals, vendor onboarding, and costly acclimation efforts. Free up your team to focus on what they do best—serving your mission—while we handle the design work, from strategy to execution with deep knowledge of your mission and brand.
  • Flexible yet Predictable Budgeting: Simple and predictable monthly billing. Flexibility to revise our plans to accommodate new or changing needs.
  • Communication: Regular video check-ins to coordinate our efforts. These provide opportunities to consider strategy, proactively share ideas, and prioritize collaboratively.
  • Exclusivity and Dedication: We take on a limited number of fractional clients. We ensure each organization we commit to receives our full attention, responsiveness, and dedication to their mission.

What you really want in a partner is someone who has your best interests in mind. Not only were they diligent in following up and keeping things moving, Minds On Design Lab (MOD-Lab) really helped push our initiative forward. Given our mission-focus, we’re a heart-centered organization so it’s important to us to have a family-like feeling. MOD-Lab is part of our family. I can’t speak more highly of them or recommend anyone more. I really look forward to continuing our work together.

Brad Wolfe, Founder & Executive Director, Reimagine

You’ll need us when …

Our Fractional Design Team model is especially beneficial for:

  • Growing Organizations. You are a small team with growing impact that needs to expand your capabilities.
  • Leadership Longing for a Team. Often you have a communications and/or fundraising lead on staff. They have great ideas, but are held back by not having creative minds to work through and bring their ideas to life.
  • Budget Conscious. Perfect for those who need expert input but can’t justify or afford a full-time creative director let alone a design team.
  • Focus on Brand Consistency. You want to ensure that every aspect of your organization's public image is consistent and polished.
  • Building Trust Through Design. You aim to strengthen relationships. You value the role beautifully designed communications can play in doing that.
  • Organizations with annual design needs. Each year you might have a major event/gala, annual report, an end of year campaign, or more.

Fractional hiring can help you get mightier when your growth needs it

By building your team with fractional hiring, you can significantly boost your organization's capabilities without overstretching your budget. Our fractional model is an example that goes one important step further in how it pairs design leadership with a skilled and thoughtful team to bring creative ideas to life.

Think our design team might be right for your organization?

Get in touch to explore how we can tailor our services to meet your needs and help you make a lasting impact.

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Articles are brought to you by Minds On Design Lab

Minds On Design Lab is a strategic design studio with digital expertise. We're passionate about elevating small and mighty teams in the social sector. We connect people to mission through beautifully designed branding, web, and print.