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Debunking the Overhead Myth

Make it look good, but not too good. We don’t want the donors to think we spend too much on marketing”. 

Have you ever said this to yourself, or even out loud?


So many small to medium size nonprofits think that if their websites, logos, brochures, etc., look too good then donors won’t want to give them money. We’ve heard this more than once from the nonprofit clients we specialize in working with. According to Fast Company, it even has a name: the Overhead Myth.

We're here to tell you this is nothing more than a myth.

We firmly believe that the benefits of strong branding and beautiful marketing materials outweigh any negative perception, when done right. 

Your mission is to help as many people as possible and make the most out of your budget. In order to do that you need to spend — sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. 

Don’t forget the reason for design and marketing!

Assuming that you’ll receive fewer donations if you look too good ignores one of the most important reasons for marketing—to make genuine connections with your audience, to engage them, and to share valuable information in a way that sinks in. You may think it’s superficial, but good design and marketing go so much deeper than that. 

By investing in the best possible marketing and design, you’ll be sure to make visual, emotional and knowledge-based connections. Your materials (your website, brochures, letters, event and marketing collateral) will have the most impact and create deep connections—which results in (deep) financial support! 

Think about it… Saying you only want to look decent is only using 50% of your potential.

If a donor offered your organization 100k to support your mission, would you refuse half of it? 

That’s what you’re doing by not supporting your organization with the most authentic, most compelling visuals possible.

Make them believe in you.

Donors want to invest in something they believe in. Your marketing can help secure their trust, create loyalty, and bring them more fully into your organization.


Great visuals connect people more than words could ever do alone. We’re living in a visual world, and you have to cut through all the clutter. People don’t have the bandwidth to be able to get into the depth of what we as an organization are supposed to do in the neighbor or poverty. However people do have the capacity to understand it visually. If you can present it in an interesting visual way that helps people to understand it, they will get your mission and what you are trying to achieve as an organization. Graphic designers help organizations bridge that connection with their audiences to better understand their mission and goals.” - Casey O'Donnell, CEO of Impact Services

How do we know this quote is true? Because Impact’s branding and design materials have all been updated and designed by GDLOFT. It’s given them a better presence locally and nationally—and we are thrilled—but not surprised. Because this is how great design works.


So I ask you: do you really think that spending money on marketing and design is going to turn away donors?

We humbly submit to you that, if anything, better branding will attract bigger and better donors. And we’d love to show you firsthand.


At GDLOFT we pride ourselves on keeping our overhead low and staying affordable by only offering the services that you need. We offer quality work that competes on the national stage. In fact, two years ago we beat out Pentagram in a major design competition for Print Magazine’s Annual Regional Design Awards. That was major for a Philly design firm then and as it is now.


Ready to bring your organization up its full potential—and make those deep connections that result in more support? Let’s talk.


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