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The ability to create or source professional, beautiful (sometimes ugly) images for fundraising cannot be understated. Unfortunately, original high-quality design and photography can be cost-prohibitive for some nonprofits, whether it’s working through a professional designer or purchasing lame stock photos that may or may not contain Vince Vaughn.

And the tools to create graphics or modify images, like Photoshop and InDesign, can take years to master.

Luckily, there are a few free tools out there that can be used, with little technical knowledge, to obtain photos and create beautiful graphics. Here are four of my favorites:

1. Canva

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Canva launched in 2013 with over $3M in funding and backing from former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki. This free web-based tool makes graphic design easy and fun.

After creating an account and logging in, you can start a new project by selecting from pre-set dimensions for Facebook cover photos, Twitter background, flyers, PowerPoint slides and many more:

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The drag and drop builder will feel right at home with anyone who has used PowerPoint. You can even save designs for later use or editing, and their free resource section – called Design School – is full of helpful tutorials and articles.

For more premium images, there is a paid version of the tool.

2. Pablo by Buffer

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Buffer, one of our favorite social media scheduling and content curation tools, just recently released Pablo, a graphic design tool specifically for social media. You can choose from pre-uploaded photos and overlay text for images that will supplement your Facebook posts and tweets. Keep an eye on this one!

3. Creation Swap

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Creation Swap is a nice tool for faith-based organizations and congregations. You can easily search and sort by video, photo, graphic and audio for the content you need.

New users can download three images per month on the free account, or pay monthly for increased access. As with Canva, there is premium content available a la carte for a price.

4. PhotoPin

PhotoPin is a search engine for images on Flickr that are marked under the Creative Commons license, which allows for commercial and non-commercial use and modification as long as attribution is credited to the creator:

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The search results are elegant and easily sorted by filter. Some paid options do appear in search results. Each image comes with a variety of download sizes and gives you the information you need to credit the artist, including HTML code for images used on the web.

While there’s no replacing a paid professional designer or photographer, there are free tools out there that can make any nonprofit look as good as an organization with a large marketing budget.

Have you ever used these tools? Where do you get your photos and images? Let me know in the comments below!

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Steven Shattuck

Steven Shattuck

Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang
Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven is a contributor to "Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition" and volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member, and sits on the faculty of the Institute for Charitable Giving. He is the author of Robots Make Bad Fundraisers - How Nonprofits Can Maintain the Heart in the Digital Age, published by Bold and Bright Media.