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We are proud to be able to share a fantastic new resource for anyone who is involved in producing, editing, or approving direct response creative. Our comprehensive guide will give you essential advice and tools for producing effective and ethical creative. Download M+R’s Direct Response Creative for Nonprofits: Theory and Practice here.

The guide is an examination of what works and what matters most when it comes to creative for fundraising, advocacy, list growth, marketing, brand awareness, and more. We hope you’ll find it to be the clearest, most detailed explanation of what really makes direct response creative tick you’ve ever read. 

A major focus of the guide is on developing creative that aligns with and advances organizational  values. All that thinking helped inform the lively—and inspiring!—Roundtable we hosted yesterday to explore crucial questions around ethical creative. Guide authors (and M+R Creative Directors) Gwen Emmons and Will Valverde were joined by our friends Amirio Freeman of Feeding America and Rosa Del Angel from Oxfam to share their perspectives. If you weren’t able to attend, or wanted to share the content with colleagues, you can find a recording here

So much of this work is about acknowledging our past—missteps and all—while doing the work of moving forward to be better now and in the future. Each campaign and piece of creative is an opportunity to make change. With that forward focus, we were so inspired to see nonprofits on the call share their ideas and intentions around their org’s creative. For example, organizations shared that they are:

  1. Finding the right storytellers for the right moments, and exploring methods and models for compensating those whose stories we tell without making those relationships purely transactional.
  2. Focusing on the role of design and how imagery, words, and symbols might contribute to racial narratives.
  3. Creating a framework for holding an organization’s chain of command accountable.
  4. Building out a dedicated budget line for hiring photographers and artists from the communities they’re hoping to feature more often, independent of any specific need but instead to start building a better bank of images.
  5. Listening with the intention to truly hear how their creative lands.

We’d love to hear how you’re aligning your creative with your values, and we’d also be glad to help with a creative audit or other service. Reach out to or


One of our favorite moments from the Roundtable came when panelist Amirio Freeman shared this gorgeous quote from adrienne maree brown’s book Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing World. The quote captures the power of creative and imagination, and it really resonated with us. We hope you’ll hold it with you as you embark on this work (and read through our guide!).

We are in an imagination battle.

Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown and Renisha McBride and so many others are dead because, in some white imagination, they were dangerous. And that imagination is so respected that those who kill, based on an imagined, radicalized fear of Black people, are rarely held accountable. 

Imagination has people thinking they can go from being poor to a millionaire as part of a shared American dream. Imagination turns Brown bombers into terrorists and white bombers into mentally ill victims. Imagination gives us borders, gives us superiority, gives us race as an indicator of ability. I often feel I am trapped inside someone else’s capability. I often feel I am trapped inside someone’ else’s imagination, and I must engage my own imagination in order to break free.

— adrienne maree brown

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