Friday, April 8, 2016

Canva for Work - Free for Libraries!

As you all know by now, I am a big fan of Canva. I've talked about it a few times on here... I cannot recommend it enough. It is the perfect program for people who are ready for something more professional than Microsoft Word/Publisher but less intimidating than Adobe InDesign. Personally, I've found it so easy to use and it's upped my design skills.

But a new development has made me even more excited about Canva. A few months ago, they rolled out Canva for Work, which takes the free Canva account and upgrades it with a paid subscription for special features. I was intrigued, but I didn't try the trial because I was afraid I would fall in love with it and I wasn't ready to pay. But then I got a tip from the Libraries & Social Media Facebook Group that Canva for Work is free for nonprofits. I was disappointed to learn they asked for a 501c(3) nonprofit form first, which we don't have, but then I found out they do accept Tax Exempt forms.

I immediately upgraded my work account. They put it on a trial mode and then when the trial ended, they accepted our nonprofit status. Yay!!!

And I LOVE IT. Here's a picture tour of all the goodies:

In the first photo, I was pleased to see that my personal account was separated from the Canva for Work Team Account. I have to click on my library account to access all work designs.

Easily move between your personal and work accounts!
When you switch over to the Canva for Work Account, your dashboard adds a few new features. As you can see below, you can easily see your own designs, the designs that were only shared with you, and your whole teams' designs, called the "Team Stream."

Simple but upgraded dashboard
When you go to "Your Brand", you can make your own templates for Presentation, Facebook Post, Twitter, Instagram, Flyer, Pinterest, Invitation, Letterhead, Business Card, Gift Certificate, Poster, Card, Facebook Cover, and Custom. What a time saver! We use Custom to make images for our Website Slider and our Digital Picture Frame.

Scroll down and make templates for flyers, social media, and more!

The Brand Kit is really awesome! You can save your own colors and they'll default to the top of your color palette in any document. You can upload fonts and set each heading to different font types and sizes. And you can upload your logos for easy locating later.

Brand Kit Part 1: Set your own color palette. These colors default to the top of Fonts, Background, and Elements.

Brand Kit Part 2: Set your own fonts and sizes. Upload the fonts you want!

Your Brand Kit fonts show up in EVERY template as the default setting.

Brand Kit Part 3: Upload your logos for easy locating later.

Brand Kit Logos appear under "Uploads",
in their own folder.
One of the big advantages with Canva for Work is that you can use it with a group of people in your organization. So, you can invite up to ten people to join your "team" and you can set them to be Administrators, Template Designers, or just Members. All teammates can create and share designs. Template Designers are in control of the templates and brand kit and Administrators can do that as well as manage team members.

The benefit of being part of a team is that you can easily show your design to ONLY team members. When you finish your design, you can click on "Showing" in the top right and you'll see that option.

The images will appear in the Team Stream and anyone can easily make changes to it. They just click on your image and then click "Remix". No more having to email everyone through the share option on each design when you want some feedback. So simple and easy to use!

Just click the green "Remix" to make quick changes.
But of course, the greatest feature is their "Magic Resize" option. You can take any design, go to File and then choose which formats you want it in. It was pretty impressive. As you can see below, it kept all the images in the correct proportions and just changed the background size behind it. It wasn't always perfect (sometimes there's too much space and not enough design), but still a huge time saver!

All the options for resizing your current design.
 Example of Resizing:

Size: Small Flyer

Size: Facebook Post

Size: Twitter
And that ends our photo tour. If you really enjoy Canva, I highly recommend upgrading to Canva for Work and applying for the nonprofit status. There is so much to gain and all you have to do is scan in a copy of your Tax Exempt form.

Thanks, Canva, for supporting nonprofits!

For more articles on Canva, check out:
Canva: Make Easy Designs in Little Time
5 Secret Tricks to Using Canva Like a Pro


  1. Thank you for this!! Just applied for our library! I have been using a Canva personal account and have loved it for flyers and social media images (someone at last year's MLS Annual Meeting recommended it, maybe that was you? If so, thank you!)

    1. You're welcome. Happy to pass this tip along! I didn't attend MLS's annual meeting last year, but I did talk about it at MLA last May. I will be at MLA again this year, to talk about our floating fiction collection with the local high school. If you attend that session, please say hi!!! :)

      And, I'd love to follow you on Canva. My account is

    2. Sure thing! I am :) Also, I did use only our tax exempt form and our application was approved this morning, so they are still approving with those!

  2. Jess, I applied for this for my public library but they stated that I did not qualify for the non-profit canva for work. Could you pass on which documents you included? I included out tax exemption paperwork but that was not accepted.

    1. Oh, no! That's all we sent -- we had a Tax Exempt certificate and our tax exempt paperwork and I put them both into the same file and sent it over. What exactly did they tell you? If this is no longer the case, I will update the article above.

  3. I had the same problem. I sent our tax-exempt letter, and they said that wasn't sufficient. I haven't followed up yet, so I'm not sure why they would accept some and not others.

    1. We sent both the Tax Exempt Certificate and the Form ST-5 Sales Tax Exempt Purchaser Certificate (I saved them in one document) back in January and they accepted that... That's disappointing it didn't work for you! I know our other blogger, Kat, only sent her Tax Exempt Certificate and they accepted it recently. Is the letter the same as the Certificate?

  4. I'm looking to complete the nonprofit application for our library. I have my own free account which I have been using for work but should I specifically create a "Canva for work" account for the free license for nonprofits first? Canva for work offers a free 30 day trial but requires credit card information. Does anyone have any information to share?

    1. You need to create a free account either way. The credit card is only needed if you want to sign yourself up for the trial, but you don't need to do that. When we applied for the free nonprofit account, they immediately rolled us into the trial with no credit card. When the trial ended, I contacted them to see if we were approved and they said yes.

      I don't think you need to make a new account if you only use your current account for work. But if you do personal things on it, I'd probably make a new one. I don't know if that'll discourage them from giving you a free account, but for me, I wasn't willing to take that chance. Since I use my account for work and the blog, I asked my coworker to apply.

      Good luck!

  5. Hi Jess,

    I just wanted to give you an update regarding a free pro account for libraries. I just tried submitting both a tax exempt and a W-9 for the library and both were denied. Has anyone tried recently for the free account?

  6. From what I can tell on Canva's website, the following needs to be submitted:
    Organizations recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations formed for charitable, educational, religious, literary, scientific, or other tax-exempt purposes.