Canva is an online drag n’ drop design program. Either through its an app for Android or iOS or through the web portal you can choose from thousands of pre-designed templates for various layout needs and simply edit with a massive library of fonts and graphics till your heart is content. Should I Use Canva? It is mostly free! There is also a premium version.
This makes it especially enticing for churches and church communication teams that don’t have the budget to hire a professional graphic designer and would like to put a tool into the hands of their non-designer staff and be able to finally achieve some decent looking graphics. Whether that be for a bulletin, for the church website, or social media channels this does seem to be the obvious solution. Or is it?
Using Canva vs. hiring an expert designer.
As a professional designer, I will admit I may be a little biased here. But I will be honest and tell that even I have used Canva before. Canva is great for social media posts and quick designs that don’t need a lot of thought and context. The reason you hire a professional graphic designer is not just to place an order for a design like you might order from a menu. You hire a professional to bring ideas and expertise to the table. A professional designer is going to be thinking about your brand, messaging, and strategy.
Using Canva is more like ordering from a menu of premade ideas and concepts that may or may not fit your brand. That is not to say Canva can’t be useful. If I need to get out a quick social media graphic for Veterans Day I don’t need to be concerned about brand messaging, or strategy. It’s a simple project that a drag and drop editor is perfect for.
But keep this one thing in mind. You won’t be the only brand posting that premade social image on your brand’s page. Some templates can become very overused.
One other downside to Canva is there is no PSD to re-edit in the future so your design will forever be in Canva.
It is important to consider the licenses that come with these premade designs. You cannot copyright or trademark what you design these elements so this rules out creating logo’s. Plus Canva doesn’t support vector exports yet.
Free items are licensed with their extended license which means you are not limited on prints or distribution, but it is not an exclusive license which means anyone can remix the same elements. So if you need uniqueness you need your own design elements.
Paid items come with standard and extended licenses. If you pay $1 for an item it’s a one time use in your design with up to 2000 copies of that design allowed. And you have to complete that design in 24hours. If you pay $10 for an element then you are able to use it in unlimited designs with up to 250,000 copies of your designs allowed. But if you want to resale anything you create in Canva then you need to buy their extended license for $100 for that element. This also gives you unlimited copies of that design.
When deciding to use Canva for a design you need to consider the license that you will have to buy for the end product.
Canva for Non-Profits
Is your church a 501c3? Then there is good news for you. Canva has a program for nonprofit organizations like yours which offers free Canva for Work access for up to 10 members to eligible nonprofit organizations. This, however, does not include access to premium elements, but this allows you in house church communications team to work together on designs and store your brand elements for use on Canva.
Does your church run a WordPress website? Design amazing blog graphics from within your WordPress site using Canva’s WordPress plugin. This plugin can be a little clumsy, but it’s a great way to quickly make graphics for a blog post.
Should a Church Communication Team use Canva?
I would add Canva as one of many tools in your toolbox. It has its uses, but I would not rely on it for all of your graphic design needs. It has potential. Especially for a smaller church that doesn’t have a massive communication budget. You will, however, discover limitations where you need a professional graphics designer.