In a past article I came to the defence of the stock photo for association design projects. In this article I’ll give you some more tools to help raise the level of your graphic design for association events. These can help you if you are a professional designer or the one person who does it all for events. Most items on my list are in the range of cheap to free, and I’m keeping some of the heavy hitters like Adobe Creative Suite and WordPress off this list because while they are very powerful tools, they can be difficult to learn and can require more investment than needed for some people.

Google Fonts

Finding fonts used to be a huge pain. Even if you found the one you wanted, it might not have been compatible with your system, or they may have been priced too high to use for a single project. If they were free, they might have been poorly designed and missing characters, or worse, crash your whole computer. That all changed in 2010 when Google Fonts came out.

Google fonts is a one-stop-shop for all online and offline font needs. There are more than 950 fonts available to download, all for FREE! Most fonts have multiple variations to give you lots of options when creating documents. There is a great search engine that can really help you narrow you search.

The part I like the most is that all fonts work both online and in your offline programs. This way your association’s website can match the look of your marketing materials and really give all your designs a consistent, professional look according to the branding guidelines of an association.


Ever read something online and thought, “Wow, I really like the look of that—I wonder what font that is”? WhatTheFont can help. Take a screenshot of the font in question. Upload it to the site and it will compare your image to its massive online database. You may not find the exact font you’re looking for, but it can help you find something close.


Canva is simple drag-and-drop editor makes building graphics easy, even for non-designers. Users can choose from millions of existing photos, illustrations, icons, fonts, and other graphics to create some pretty slick designs in just a few minutes. It’s great for social media images, web graphics, and more. Like Google Fonts, it’s FREE! While it may not be as powerful as Adobe Creative Suite, it’s a great option if you don’t have or don’t want to use the Adobe products, especially for associations who have smaller budgets.


“We need that in a vector format.” This is a question a supplier might come back to you with after you supply a logo or graphic for production. In a previous post I’ve talked about the difference between raster and vector graphics.

While Canva can help you create images for web and social media, they are all raster graphics, and won’t work for some applications. Vectr is a tool that I have discovered to be a way to edit and create vector logos and graphics without needing expensive and complicated software. Again, a great option for small associations!


I’ve already talked in my previous article about how far stock photos have come. Great photos can help make any design look better. However, budgets are a reality and you can’t always afford a stock photo subscription, and free stock photo sites sometimes leave a lot to be desired. Most of the time the photos are less than great, and if you do find one that you like, it’s often a ‘premium’ photo which you have to end up paying for.

Unsplash is the best free photo site I have come across. These are high quality professional photos that will help you with your designs. They work great for background images or if your association’s website or social media posts are lacking images.


Nope, you haven’t accidently clicked on a link to another blog post! Love it or hate it, Pinterest is the inspiration source. Whatever you are looking for, you’ll find inspiration on Pinterest. The interface is a bit clunky and setting up boards isn’t as easy as it should be, but once you have it set up it’s a very handy tool to keep track of your ideas. Even if you dislike Pinterest, you can always save the images into folders on your computer.


Every great association event has a consistent theme. And consistency is often achieved through thoughtful design. Choosing a complementary colour palette helps to set the right mood and tone. You can choose from pre-existing colour pallets or upload your own image and it will give you some key colours to use.

There you have it! Using a combination of these tools will help you create stunning and consistent graphics that will help you create and promote your association event, even on a budget. Once you have photos, colour themes, and fonts picked out, creating additional graphics for you event will happen faster and in a more cost-effective way.


Note: Strauss event & association management has not been asked to or paid to promote any of these websites. These are all tools that I have come across myself or have been recommended to me.