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Let's give Canva for nonprofits a test drive

Welcome to this MyCom screencast from United Methodist Communications. 

What started as a simple tool to create quick graphics has turned into one of the most fully featured media creation tools on the market. Canva is focused on making it easy for normal people to create professional, eye-catching media without spending hours doing it. 


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The great news is Canva makes all of its pro-level tools free for nonprofits, which means that all those tools are completely free for United Methodist churches or affiliated organizations, such as the Wesley Foundation. 

All you have to do is apply for Canva for nonprofits, using your nonprofit paperwork and EIN (employer identification number). ... Go to, put in your EIN, click “Submit,” and you're done.

Now, let's get back to Canva for nonprofits. 

Once you sign in, you'll be taken to the home screen. There's a lot here. But let's dive in by creating a unique piece, for a Bible study. 

The easiest way to begin creating with Canva is to start from one of its fantastic templates. Because you have a nonprofit account, you will have access to Canva’s pro level of templates. 

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Let’s click in and begin searching for Bible study templates. 

It looks like youth Bible study is an option. We'll click that and find a number of different options. Let's choose this one with the church background. 

It will immediately open into an editor view where we will create our own graphic based on this beginning template. 

Now, this one looks great, but the first thing we realize is that we don't have a church like that. So, let's change that image with an image of people actually studying. 

Go over to the toolbar on the left-hand side and click “Photos.” Type in “studying.” This will search their stock photos for exactly what we're looking for. Then we can choose the one we want. 

It looks like we've got a great option right here at the top. To replace an existing image in a template, carefully drag your selection over until you see it replace that background image. Let go. And it's there.

Of course, that's not the only customization we can do. By going over and clicking on the text, we can change the color, we can add elements, we can click into the style toolbox where there are pre-selected color schemes and font schemes. We can click and click until we see something that seems to fit right. We can do the same with fonts until we have something that feels like what we want.

We've got a pretty good start here, but because you have Canva for nonprofits, the real power has just started.

You can create multiple versions of the same concept simply by clicking resize. 

Let's say we want an Instagram story. We check the box, click “Copy” and “Resize” and a new document opens up with the right dimensions for an Instagram story. 

All we have to do is drag, resize and make it look the way we want for our Instagram story. 

We started with a poster. Now we have an Instagram story. But what if we wanted to make a little brochure as well? 

Scroll down and click “Brochure,” “Copy” and “Resize.” And now we have a brochure layout. 

In just a couple of minutes, we have all of the basic layouts that we need for an Instagram story, a poster and a brochure based on this one design.

Now that we've got the design, let's go back to the Instagram story. 

Click “Share” and you'll notice another pro feature that we have: schedule. This feature allows us to schedule this to post in the future on one of many social media platforms. 

All we do is click “Schedule,” select our date and then click “Next,” which will bring us to the page where we create our post and select the social media network. 

Let's go back to the home screen and explore another really interesting feature enabled with Canva for nonprofits, team.

When you click on your team, you'll see that you're able to share Canva for nonprofits with multiple people. In fact, you get 10 free team members with the nonprofit account that will allow 10 people to have all of the pro features in Canva. 

This area is where you can share and collaborate on creating different marketing pieces for your organization.

OK, let's click this free dinner and worship sign that Caitlyn created for us. 

We have the ability to make a copy so we can edit it ourselves or open her copy, where we will be able to comment. 

Let's open this one. You'll see that whenever we hover over an element, a speech bubble appears. If we click that, we can go in and make our own comment. 

Let's tell her that we love this font.

But when we look at the top, we see a little tweak that would be nice to make. 

We can click that logo up there at the top and say, “You know, let's move this up a little bit.”

When we make these comments official, the owner of this piece will receive a notification that some comments have been made. They can tweak it and move forward, having collaborated asynchronously with the team. 

Now, let's go back home. One thing that you'll notice is that in our team, we don't see all of the projects, just the ones that have been shared. 

Team members can make all the projects they want personally, but only the ones that they choose to share will be shown in the team area.

When you look at the navigation on the left-hand side, you see another exciting feature: brand. This area makes brand consistency easy by putting your logo, colors and fonts in one place.

As you can see, we've already uploaded our logo here, which means that it's easy to add it wherever we need it. 

Let's go back to that Bible study poster. 

All we do is click “Logos” and drag our logo onto our piece. We resize it and move it to where we want. Canva makes it so easy to keep this piece consistent with our brand. 

Branding is more than just a logo. You can add your colors and your fonts so that you can bring everything into sync.

Look back to that left-hand navigation. You'll see another really great tool: the content planner. Let's dive in. 

Making a plan for your content can really take your marketing to the next level. There are a lot of tools that you can pay for to do this kind of content planning, but most of them have a fatal flaw.

Most of them are really content schedulers, not content planners. 

The nice thing about Canva’s implementation is that you can put content pieces on your calendar that are not scheduled through Canva. 

If you've got an email newsletter going out, you just click and type in "email newsletter." That will appear in your content planner. But you can also click a plus sign, select one of the pieces you've created and schedule it right here in the planner that would show up right here and then go out right when you need it in the future. 

Using a content planner like this will allow you to make sure that you're not over-saturating communication on one day and leaving multiple days in a row empty. It allows you to pace your communication so that you're constantly putting information in front of people who want to see it. 

So far, we've been focusing on print and social media pieces. But Canva can do a lot more. Let's look at that. 

Back at the home screen, we see all kinds of different things.

We've been thinking about media and graphics, but Canva also does video and it does it really well and the way that you'd expect Canva to do it: easily professional and easy to tweak. 

You'll see a bunch of different types of videos here at the back bottom. We'll just choose the standard video, click and go right into the editor. 

Just like in the graphics and print version, there are a bunch of different template ideas over here on the left. We'll choose one of them. 

We'll immediately see one of the things that makes Canva unique in the way it thinks about video.

This video basically has three clips, and Canva is treating each of those clips as a page and is asking us if we would like to apply all three pages. We're going to do that and let it add all of that to the timeline for us. 

Down at the bottom, you'll see each of those three pages are now there. And when we click “Play,” we'll get to see what's happening in this template. 

Let's pause it. Whenever we pause it, we can change any of the elements just like a print image. Click on the text and edit it. Let's change this to “Rock and roll. When we go back and press play, we'll see that the video now says “Rock and roll.”

We can do that with other elements as well. On different pages, we can move elements around. We can edit it just like we would a print piece. 

Over on the left-hand side, we have elements. We can click in there. A fun, little eyeball is another piece of this design. 

Up at the top right, we just click “Share.” We're probably going to want to download this as an mp4. 

But just like those social media graphics and print pieces, we can also resize this. 

Let's say we want to make this into an Instagram story. Check the box, then copy and resize. It has automatically put everything in the orientation that we need for an Instagram story. 

We're not going to probably leave it centered like this. We’ll want to fill up that Instagram story. We will expand the “roll,” move the “rock” down and look at each of these pages to see how we want to make these elements fit. 

Down on the third page, we'll move some of these elements around and center the text. Now all that's left is to share. We can download it as an mp4 file, or we can just go ahead and schedule that to run on Instagram.

Of course, we can't cover everything in this screencast. There's a whole lot more you can do — infographics, desktop wallpapers, book covers, calendars — all kinds of different things that they have preformatted and ready to go. 

This powerful, professional-level tool is not only easy to use, it's free because you're a nonprofit. 

Transcribed by Edited for further clarity.

Jeremy Steele

Jeremy Steele is the associate pastor at Los Altos UMC in Los Altos, California, as well as a writer and speaker. You can find a list of all his books, articles and resources for churches, including his most recent book All the Best Questions, at his website: