5 Tips for Setting Non-Profit Design Rates
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Research the market
  2. Determine your value
  3. Set a rate that reflects your experience and skills
  4. Consider the non-profit status
  5. Communicate clearly about your rates

Setting the right rates for your design services can be a bit of a balancing act, especially when you're working with non-profit organizations. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting, knowing how to set rates for design in non-profit is vital to ensure you're compensating yourself fairly without overcharging your clients. So, let's get down to business with these five practical tips.

Research the Market

Before you set your rates, it's essential to understand what the going rates are in your industry. The market can give you a ballpark figure for what other designers charge for similar services. This will give you a clearer picture of where to start.

Look at Competitor Rates

Find out what other freelance designers are charging for similar services. You can do this by:

  • Checking out freelance job boards or websites where designers often list their rates.
  • Asking around in your professional network.
  • Seeking advice from online forums or social media groups dedicated to freelance design.

Remember, these rates are just a reference point. Your value may be higher or lower based on various factors that we'll discuss later.

Understand the Non-Profit Market

Knowing the non-profit market is also crucial. Non-profits operate under different financial constraints than for-profit businesses. It's important to:

  • Understand their budget limitations.
  • Know the average spending on design services in the non-profit sector.
  • Consider their mission and values and how your services align with them.

By considering these factors, you'll be better equipped to set a rate that's fair to both you and your non-profit client.

Stay Updated

Market rates aren't set in stone. They can fluctuate based on demand, industry trends, and economic conditions. Make it a habit to periodically check the market rates and adjust your rates accordingly. This way, you'll ensure your rates stay competitive and reflective of the value you offer.

In the world of non-profit design, knowing how to set rates isn't just about the money—it's about finding a balance between your value as a designer and the unique needs of the non-profit sector. In the next section, we'll explore how to determine your value as a designer, which plays a key role in setting your rates.

Determine Your Value

After understanding the market, the next step is to determine your value. Your value as a designer is not just about the time you spend on a project, but also the skills, experience, and unique perspectives you bring to the table. So how do you quantify this?

Assess Your Skills and Experience

Your skills and experience are significant factors in determining your value. To do this:

  • Look at your portfolio and identify your strongest skills.
  • Take note of your years of experience in the design field.
  • Consider any specializations that may set you apart from other designers.

Remember, the more skills and experience you have, the more value you can provide to your clients, and this should be reflected in your rates.

Quantify Your Impact

Another factor to consider is the impact of your work. Ask yourself:

  • Have your designs led to an increase in donations or awareness for a non-profit?
  • Did your work help to improve the organization's brand image or reach more people?
  • Can you measure this impact in some way?

If you can prove that your designs have a positive impact, this adds to your value and should be considered when setting your rates.

Factor in Your Costs

Lastly, don't forget to factor in your costs. These may include:

  • Software subscriptions.
  • Hardware like computers or tablets.
  • Ongoing education or training to keep your skills up-to-date.

Your rates should cover these costs and still leave you with a fair profit. After all, you're running a business!

Determining your value is a crucial step in knowing how to set rates for design in non-profit. Once you've got this down, you'll be able to set a rate that reflects your experience, skills, and the impact of your work. Next, we'll look at how to do just that.

Set a Rate That Reflects Your Experience and Skills

Now that you've determined your value, it's time to translate that into a rate. This rate should reflect the skills and experience you bring to the table, as well as the unique impact of your work. Here's how you can go about it.

Set a Base Rate

First, consider setting a base rate. This is the lowest rate you're willing to accept for your work. It should cover your costs, ensure a fair profit, and align with your value as a designer. Here's a simple way to do it:

  • Calculate your desired annual income.
  • Add your yearly business expenses.
  • Divide the sum by the number of hours you plan to work in a year.

And voila! You have your base rate. It's a straightforward way to ensure you're earning what you need to sustain your business and lifestyle.

Adjust Based on the Project

But, every project is unique — and so should be your rates. Once you have your base rate, you can adjust it based on the specifics of the project. You might consider:

  • The complexity of the project.
  • The timeline – tight deadlines might mean higher rates.
  • Any special requirements or challenges that the project presents.

By adjusting your rate based on the project, you're ensuring that you're compensated fairly for the work you put in.

Don't Forget Your Value!

Finally, don't forget to factor in your value. If your designs have consistently led to an increase in donations for non-profits, or if you have a rare specialization, then your rates should reflect that. Don't sell yourself short!

Setting a rate that reflects your experience and skills is a key part of understanding how to set rates for design in non-profit. It helps ensure you're compensated fairly for your work while still providing value to your clients. In the next section, we'll look at how the non-profit status of your clients can play a role in setting your rates.

Consider the Non-Profit Status

Working with a non-profit brings a whole new layer to the rate-setting process. Non-profits operate under unique financial constraints, and as a designer, your rates must take this into account. That doesn't mean you should work for free, but it does mean being mindful of their budgetary limitations.

Understand their Budget Limitations

Non-profits often operate with tight budgets. This means they may not have the same resources to invest in design work as for-profit organizations. Here are a few steps to keep in mind:

  • Ask about their budget upfront to gauge what they're able to pay.
  • Be transparent about your regular rates, but also be open to negotiation.

Understanding their budget limitations is a good starting point when determining how to set rates for design in non-profit.

Offer Flexible Payment Options

Another way to navigate the non-profit financial landscape is to offer flexible payment options. This could mean setting up a payment plan, offering a sliding scale, or even bartering services. It's a win-win; you get paid for your work, and the non-profit can afford your services.

Consider Pro Bono Work

Pro bono work — offering your services free of charge — is another option. But be careful. While it's a great way to give back to the community, it should be a conscious choice, not a default because you're unsure how to set your rates.

By taking into account the non-profit status of your clients, you can set a fair rate that respects your value as a designer and the financial realities of the non-profit sector. Up next, we'll tackle the importance of clear communication about your rates.

Communicate Clearly About Your Rates

When setting design rates for non-profits, clarity is key. No one likes surprises when it comes to costs, especially not non-profits working within tight budgets. Here's how to ensure you and your client are on the same page from the get-go.

Be Transparent from the Start

Transparency starts with the first conversation you have with a potential non-profit client. This isn't the time to be shy about discussing money:

  • Share your rates upfront, soon after you've learned about the project scope.
  • Ensure they understand what these rates cover—no hidden fees or last-minute add-ons.

This level of transparency can help you avoid misunderstandings later on and is an essential part of how to set rates for design in non-profit.

Provide a Detailed Quote

Once you have a clear understanding of the project, provide a detailed quote. This should include:

  1. The total cost for the project.
  2. A breakdown of what each portion of the project costs.
  3. Any additional costs that may arise and the conditions under which they would apply.

A detailed quote will give the non-profit a clear picture of where their money is going and allow them to plan their budget accordingly.

Keep Communication Open

Finally, keep the lines of communication open. If something changes that could impact the cost, let the non-profit know as soon as possible. This way, they won't feel blindsided and will have time to adjust their budget if necessary.

By clearly communicating your rates, you can build trust with your non-profit clients, ensuring a smoother working relationship and a more successful project. Now, armed with these tips, you're ready to confidently set your design rates for non-profit work.

If you're looking to establish a reliable pricing structure specifically for non-profit design work, our workshop 'How to Price Yourself as a Creative' by Olivia Ghalioungui is a fantastic resource. Olivia covers various aspects of pricing, including considerations for non-profit projects, which can help you create a sustainable and fair pricing model for your services. Don't miss out on this valuable workshop!