If you are a small organization or grassroots group, you can use one of the many design and printing software programs such as Printmaster or Print-shop to create quality printed materials that attract attention. The key is learning the program thoroughly and having a good layout and some sense of design. Study the spacing, design, and layout of other brochures, flyers, and printed materials to see what stands out to you.
Whether it's a print advertisement, brochure, or web ad, one of the most common mistakes is trying to put too much information onto the page. White space can be very valuable and will make your ad easier on the eye.
Start with a prototype and show everyone at the committee meeting before mailing out any final products. If you are using a software program, it will be easy to make changes based on the feedback of others.
Hiring an Outside Printer
Nonprofits tend to select either photocopy or offset printing. Photocopy uses photocopiers, which can be state-of-the-art machines that create excellent materials in a short time. Offset printing is more costly and slower but can provide higher quality, especially when photographs are involved.
Outside printers can be costly. Make sure you really need something to reach your sales or revenue goals. Have a reasonable budget for printing and stick to it. Keep in mind that once a printer gets started, running additional copies can be less expensive. For instance, 100 invitations might be $200, and 250 might be $300. A significant chunk of the cost is the initial layout and setup of the printer's equipment. Once the press is running, the cost to you is primarily paper, so it doesn't cost as much to run additional copies.
If you are using an outside printer for journals, programs, or newsletters, make sure to shop around and get several quotes before committing to one. Remember, the least expensive may not always be the best. Don't sacrifice quality for a quick job that may look amateurish. Ask several key questions, including:
How long will it take to complete the job?
Can you see proofs before the job goes to press?
In what form does the printer want copy delivered? Does it need everything camera ready?
Can you see samples of various kinds of paper?
Are there less costly methods to achieve the desired result, for example, by selecting different paper stock or modifying the layout?
You will also want to see samples of products similar to those you are trying to create. Most printing houses will provide you with choices for everything from font to paper quality. Paper stock varies greatly in quality and price. Check out a few before making a decision. The more formal or high end the event, the more you need to spring for better-quality paper. Try to match the look of the materials — from content to paper quality — to the event you are planning.
Review proofs carefully. Proofs are the prototype of the printed work. Most of the work is done by computer, but there is still a person handling the typesetting process, and errors can always be made. The more people that see it, the more likely you will be able to catch errors.
If you have a program or journal, you might be able to work a deal with the printer, such as providing a full-page ad at no cost in exchange for a discount on the cost of your printing job. Look to see how you can promote any vendors in a way that might leave them inclined to give you more for what you are paying or offer you a substantial discount on your bill. Free advertising goes a long way if your product will also reach the printer's target market.
In the end, choose a printer with whom you are confident you will receive a good, quality product.