I'm a big believer in hiring professionals whenever possible. Professionals know exactly what they're doing because they've done it every day for years and years. Hiring one makes your life easier and frees your time for other tasks.
But I understand that Non-Profits are hard to organize and fund, and that the blessed souls who run them have to wear many hats. If you find yourself in the position of having to put together some sort of design for a document, flyer or website, here are 5 simple tips for you:
1) Use Good Quality Photographs
The number one problem with amateur designs, including posters and websites, is the quality of their photographs. Don't make your photos bigger under any circumstances. They lose quality instantly. Use a picture that is sharp and has attractive lighting. I see tons of flat, boring pictures, and the biggest reason they're boring is that they were taken in the shade on a cloudy day. You need sunshine and shadows and color. Getting a professional to take high quality pictures or to, at least, retouch your photos will help tremendously.
2) Create a Visual Hierarchy
Whenever you arrange text you need to establish a visual hierarchy and stick to it. The Title should be biggest and boldest. Subheadings are smaller in size, but still bold. Paragraph text is smaller and not bold. Often, too, designers use a sans-serif font for headlines and a serif font for paragraph text. The easiest way for me to explain serif and sans-serif is to point you to Google.
Decide on the font sizes for your Titles, Sub-Headings and Paragraphs, and use those sizes every time.
3) Limit Colors
To make your life easier, use the fewest colors possible. Choose 2 or 3 main colors and an accent color that you throw in from time to time when you need extra visual interest.
4) Use Modular Design
By modular, I mean to group information into blocks. Think in terms of columns and rows. For example, if you are setting up a flyer about an event, perhaps you have 3 horizontal rows (Title section at the top; information section in the middle; contact information section at the bottom) with 2 columns in the middle row. Keeping your information modular ensures the information makes visual sense and is easy to organize. For reference, google newspaper layouts.
5) Make It Easy
When in doubt, simplify, reduce and take away. Don't cram the space full of images and text, because having plenty of free space is just as important as having plenty of visual elements. The eyes enjoy space and room.
Again, hire a professional. You could even hire me. But, if you can't, use these 5 tips to make your life a lot easier and your designs more effective.