Logo design for nonprofits

There are millions of logos in the world but how many stand out and really represent their nonprofit or small business? A good logo design will tell your story. It will be compelling and memorable. A well designed logo is an opportunity to influence the way people perceive your brand starting from the first impression.

Quick logo design exercise

Come up with three words that describe your brand. This will help you determine what you are not as much as what you are and where you want to go. In addition, logos evolve as brands evolve, so don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your brand’s logo as you re-evaluate your brand’s mission.

What makes a great nonprofit logo?

  • Simplicity: A logo design that has fewer colors, fonts, lines, and a simple shape catches people’s attention and they can quickly grasp its message
  • Unique and memorable: It must be a unique design concept and stand out from logos in similar fields
  • Aesthetically pleasing: An aesthetically great logo is one that has a sense of proportion, symmetry, and timelessness
  • Scalability: A great logo design will appear as a clean design at all sizes
  • Tells a story: The logo and visual brand gives the first impression of your non-profit

Your logo needs to be easy to use

  • Color: Your logo needs to be usable as a single color, black and white, or full color.
  • Versatile: Your logo may need to fit in a narrow space or a tall space — it is okay to have different versions of your logo or a logo that can work at any size.
  • Print and digital: Your logo needs to be a scalable vector file so it is crisp and clear on all screens and printed at any size.
  • Adaptable: Your logo may have small variations that can be used at larger sizes. It may also have animation that can be used in video or as gifs.

Adding color to your logo

Color psychology for logo design

Your nonprofit logo is part of your overall visual brand. Your brand colors should represent your mission and values, be easily recognizable, and stand out.

Blue represents heavy seriousness, professionalism, communication, freedom, security, and trust. It can be used for water, peace and democracy-related organizations. Examples are Make a Wish and Unicef.

Red represents intense emotions such as passion, aggression, love, violence, power, rebelliousness, appetite, impulsiveness, and emergency. It can be used for health, food, anti-violence and lifesaving organizations. Examples are the Red Cross and American Hearth Association.

Yellow symbolizes warmth, youth, sun, energy, cheerful emotions, organization, clarity, clearness, and caution. It can be a nice choice for organizations which try to raise awareness in the public and offer preventative services, support or fight for infrastructure and organize communities. Examples are Amnesty International and the Livestrong Foundation.

Secondary colors as well as black are also used by nonprofit organizations. Green is often used for nature, recycling, and renewable themes; orange is used for youth and support organizations; purple is good for kids, women, and maternity. Brown symbolizes symbolize nurturing, family stabilization, advocacy, and environmental activism; pink is often used with  women’s health and advocacy. Finally, black implies global and established action and examples are the WWF, Amnesty International, and PBS.

Questions to ask about your logo design

Does your logo tell your story? Is it compelling and memorable? Does it give the right first impression about your non-profit and brand? Let me know what your answers are!


Brand Storytelling
Impactful logos
Logo colors

About Amy Kvistad

Amy has 20 years of experience as a graphic designer and 10 years of experience as a web designer and developer. She works with clients directly and also partners with small businesses.