by Tyler Daniels

As we happily say “good-bye” to 2020, we welcome a new direction for development-related messaging and visual style.

While our commitment to remove barriers and open doors, enhance the learning environment and solve grand challenges will continue; we’ve provided new and refreshed resources to help you tell the story.

Our new messaging map organizes key messages into a hierarchy to ensure that our communications are clear, consistent and compelling. It can serve as a reference point when developing messaging for funding priorities. As our priorities become more specific, our messaging will become more effective – pointing toward relevant outcomes for our audiences – improved learning, leadership, and quality of life.

The messaging map prescribes what we say. Our voice is how we say it. The Development Style Guide includes our brand narrative, which incorporates an authentic voice that focuses on the concept of “tomorrow.” It also includes a new visual style that leans into the overall UGA brand and incorporates a range of illustration styles, which can be used depending on the tone and personality of the project.

These resources can be found on the DAR resources webpage. They will guide our voice and visual style as we all work toward a better tomorrow for our community, our state and our world.

by Leah Hansen

Imagine a client came to you and said, “We need 3 logos for a campaign that is launching in 3 weeks. GO!” How would you even begin to get started? That is a question that graphic designers have to ask themselves daily.

Starting from a blank canvas feels daunting every single time. The way I get around the “Staring at an empty screen for hours on end” feeling is to iterate, iterate, iterate! I put something–anything–on the canvas to get myself started. Sure, it is often terrible looking, but that is okay, because no one else will ever see it. I then copy and paste my canvas repeatedly and make minor and major changes to it until it is at a place where I’m comfortable sharing with others (because my very first options are definitely not worthy of outside viewership).

As the lead designer for both UGA’s and Auburn’s graphic efforts for our recent Beat Week Challenge, I found myself in a very tight spot. I was on the hook to design new wordmarks for not one but two major universities, and on an extremely quick timeline! Employing my love of iterating proved to be the key to success on this project.

Beat Week 2021 Ideas

There is solace in acknowledging that my first idea is almost never going to be my best idea. This attitude frees me to fail in the beginning, knowing that the final result will be much better.

After painfully working through a ton of not-so-great ideas, I emerge with the final product that the world will see.

Final Design for Beat Week 2020

The key to successful design is tons of iteration! Even when you think your idea is terrible, with enough refining, you’ll get to a place you’re proud of. You may not be a designer, but maybe trying an iteration strategy will ease and improve your work, too.


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by Edwin Hammond

When it comes to connecting with your audience, you gotta keep it real. One of the most important aspects of storytelling is authenticity. With the videos we create, our goal is to tell a compelling story that connects with and engages our audience. Sometimes that involves a highly produced and polished video. Other times, things are much more organic and simple.

When you are hoping to maximize authenticity, a less polished and more organic video is the way to go. The connection between the viewer and the subject of the video is much more direct, authentic and strong when it’s something the subject recorded themselves. We have seen a lot of success with this type of video with student messages to donors thanking them for their contributions to the University. It’s a much more personal message, and the viewer is highly engaged.

As much as we would love to produce amazing videos for every need that arises, sometimes the answer is to just keep it simple. Never underestimate the power of authenticity to connect with your audience.

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by Jessica DeAngelis

A little over five years ago, UGA underwent a brand restructure. The idea was to create a distinctive look, feel, and voice—one that people will immediately recognize as the University of Georgia. As designers, having clear and defined guidelines helps us stay true to the brand.

A common inquiry that we get from our different units is, “How do we stand out from the overall UGA brand?” It’s not that units want to be outside of brand guidelines; it is more that they want to find their own identity within the brand. They want their specific audience to see their marketing materials and know that, not only are they part of UGA, but they are specifically UGA Alumni Chapters, UGA Parent Giving, UGA Student Alumni Council, and the list goes on…

To help our units find their own distinctiveness and brand their materials, we have created style guides that give an overview of the unit’s audience, goals, key messaging, personality and visual identity. A style guide aids DARCOMM when creating messaging and promotional materials, and also provides the unit with a starting place to help them create their own materials by suggesting headlines, key messaging points and giving them a visual guide. The more connected and concise your materials look and the language feels, the clearer and stronger your message will come across to your audience.

Two examples of effective use of the style guides are UGA Alumni Chapters and UGA Parent Giving.

UGA Alumni Chapters

Alumni Chapters’ audience includes young alumni, current students, and established alumni. Their key message is, “Whatever your next chapter, your Bulldog family will be there.” See the style guide.

It was our job to create a voice, within the UGA brand, that shows UGA spirit, connection among the Bulldog Nation, and the support that offered when you are part of the Bulldog family. We accomplished this with headlines such as “Bulldogs never bark alone,” “Our commitment doesn’t end after Athens,” and “As one chapter ends, a new one begins.”

Visually, we focus on traditional colors such as Bulldog Red and Arch Black to give the sense of tradition, but we also bring in secondary colors such as Glory Glory and Olympic to give off energy that matches the younger audience. The addition of a script font as a graphic element creates a feeling of a warm personal touch. Check out the examples below.

UGA Parent Giving

Parent Giving’s audience are parents of UGA students and current Parents Leadership Council members. Their core message is “Join a philanthropic community that helps you stay connected to your student while making a difference for others.” See the style guide.

It was our job to create a voice, within UGA brand, that shows families engaging with the University, other families, their student(s) on campus and making an impact on campus. We accomplished this with headlines such as “Ensuring a world-class learning experience,” “Committed to removing barriers and opening doors,” and “Helping students thrive. That’s our commitment.”

Visually, we focus on traditional colors such as Bulldog Red and Arch Black to establish the sense of commitment to the university. Then, we bring in colors from our neutral color pallet, Sanford, Creamery and Odyssey, to help the brand feel warm and inviting.

A large part of the Parent Giving style relies on the photography. We want our audience to see themselves in photos of happy, smiling families on campus. See examples below.


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by Amanda Qubty

Now this is a story all about how

The Alumni Awards Luncheon got flipped-turned upside down

And I’d like to take a minute

Just sit right there

I’ll tell you how it became an opportunity to innovate and celebrate these honorees anywhere


In America, the pandemic was all the rage

Alumni Events + Outreach and DARCOMM worked together to figure out a new way to engage

Not at all chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool

We quickly came up with a plan using a really neat tool!

A video brochure with the videos of all the honorees

What an excellent way to steward and show each of them how much they mean[s]


Budgets were cut and tensions were high

But it all worked out and they looked so fly!

Honorees loved them

Collaboration between teams was cool

Innovation was happening

They were such a hit we were contacted by another school

[…to give them tips and info because they want to make video brochures too!]


Check out images from last year’s event here, and ooh and ahh at those beautiful floral arrangements. It’s almost like you’re not in Tate Grand Hall! Just joking, you are.

NOW take a look at this year’s video brochure! Each button on the bottom row has the 2+ minute video that DARCOMM, Alumni Events, and Alumni Outreach worked tirelessly on before and during the pandemic. Hop on over to the Alumni site to check out this year’s honorees and their videos.


Pardon my subpar rhymes. Ok, subsubsubpar rhymes.

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by Edwin Hammond

If you had asked me 6 months ago about Zoom, I would’ve responded with “Huh? What’s that?” These days, Zoom is a huge part of our new normal – a way for us to be virtually face to face.  It’s like we all get to be on a little Brady Bunch screen when we meet!

We’ve all figured out Zoom pretty well over the past few months, but I thought it would be helpful to provide a few tips on elevating the quality of your Zoom calls – better image, better sound and fun virtual backgrounds (see our awesome Zoom backgrounds here).

by Caitlyn Richtman

The UGA Alumni Association has a social presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that we post on daily. This will come to no surprise to anyone who has ever worked in social media, but it can be really hard to keep all your posts in order when you are making multiple posts a day across different platforms.

To keep up with our social media posting schedule, DARCOMM uses Airtable, a spreadsheet-database hybrid, with the features of a database but applied to a spreadsheet. Basically, it is a very fancy spreadsheet that you can use for a variety of organizational needs. DARCOMM specifically uses it for social media planning. Here are 4 reasons we have a social media calendar:

  1. Planning Ahead

To say it would be stressful to be a social media manager without a social calendar would be an understatement. It would not be very fun to show up to work every day and wonder what I am going to post. That’s why we use Airtable to plan our calendar ahead of time. Every month I am looking ahead to the next month and organizing our calendar, that way we don’t get to a new month and have a blank page.

Although our social calendar is not set in stone and I sometimes have to change things around last minute if something important pops up, we rely heavily on our social media calendar. DARCOMM is planning strategically about what we’re posting, when we’re posting it, and where on social media we’re posting.

  1. Collaboration

Airtable makes it really easy for DARCOMM to collaborate on our social media calendar. For example, if a unit asks one of the communication coordinators for a post on Instagram, they can login and add all the information I’ll need to make the post.

  1. Keeping Our Priorities Top of Mind 

DAR is a large division with a lot of different priorities and goals, a lot of which we support on social media. Our social calendar is color-coded with different priorities labeled with a different color, that way when our calendar has a lot of color variety in it, I know we are highlighting all of our marketing priorities.

For example, if we are lacking light orange in our calendar view, I know to schedule in posts about our alumni chapters and affinity groups.

  1. Thinking About Our Channels as Connected

Another great feature of Airtable is that it lets us label exactly what platform we are going to make a post on. This reminds us to think about our different channels as connected and complimentary to each other, but also helps us recognize that not all posts need to be shared everywhere. It helps us be strategic about where our posts go and how we can increase our engagement and reach by making posts that suit the platform they’re shared on.

by Loran Posey

My morning looked different on March 16. Yours did, too.

For most of us, working from home was an unfamiliar experience but a welcome step to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our commutes were replaced by walks to another room. The sounds of coworkers replaced by dogs barking, children talking or—for many—a lonely silence. And our dress shoes were replaced by … well, more on that in a second.

The last four months introduced new challenges and benefits. Sixty-two DAR employees responded to a survey in the June Pulse that asked about their experiences teleworking. The results speak to the varied DAR perspectives on working from home.

As we transition back into the office, let’s reflect on what these four months have meant to our division …

To wear or not to wear … shoes

If there’s one thing DAR employees are doing, they are making sure they are comfortable! When respondents were asked what percentage of the work day they wore shoes, the average answer was just 34.27 percent.

Next time you are in a Zoom meeting, consider that if you’re a shoe-wearer, you’re likely in the minority.

Professional development

While working from home, DAR staff have adapted to a new normal.

For many, this meant developing new skills and/or enhancing pre-existing abilities. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of respondents named time management as the skill they are most proud of improving while teleworking. This was followed by familiarity with new technology (Zoom, anyone?) at 28 percent, and the ability to work independently at 25 percent.

Additional talents

DAR employees developed a variety of talents working in a new environment—an environment that may be closer to the kitchen than we’d like.

Maybe that explains why the top ‘talent’ perfected by DAR staff was snack intake control (26 people). In second place was knowledge of the optimum amount of time you can go without a shower (23 people), followed by a close third: expertise in upper-body dress code (22 people).

Great job, colleagues! We are clearly a stronger organization on the other side of this … although “expertise in lower-body dress code” is going to come in handy again as we return to the office.

Honorable mention: one person reported that they had developed a talent for music video creation. Hmm … are we due for another music video from Sir DJ Clint Travisty?


With such a stellar set of colleagues in the division, it’s natural to miss your workplace and your coworkers … or for two of you, the coffee machines.

When asked what they missed most about going into the office, there was a tie at 41 percent between in-person interactions and the separation between your workspace and your home life.

Honorable mention: three staff members noted that dressing up was the thing they missed most. To you three, I can’t wait to see what you wear when we return!

Best part about working from home 

There are often pros to working from home. Thirty-five percent of survey respondents selected time with family/housemates as the most appealing aspect of teleworking. Twenty-two percent chose comfortable clothes and another 22 percent of you chose to write in answers (honorable mentions below). No commute and being with your pets drew 10 percent each.

One DAR staff member selected not having to pack a lunch. Hey, you’re my kind of person!

Honorable mentions:

  • Two respondents mentioned keeping up with laundry as something they do during the day. Before supervisors get concerned, consider this appeal: “the time it takes to throw a load in is equivalent to walking to the water cooler at work.”
  • One respondent enjoys checking on their vegetable garden.
  • One respondent said they valued nothing about working from home and that it stinks. OK, Kelly, we miss you too.

Zoom backgrounds

In the early days of teleworking, we ensured the rooms behind us during Zoom meetings looked presentable. With Zoom backgrounds, we now don’t have to worry about that.

When asked about the best Zoom background they have seen so far, three respondents mentioned the Jay Stroman backgrounds during our division-wide farewell in May. Three people mentioned Brooks McCommons’ and Kathy Bangle’s first car meeting theme that led to great conversations among the development team. The communications team “borrowed” this idea and it was one of my favorite meetings as well.

Honorable mention: some staff members took pictures of their actual offices and used them as their backgrounds to appear as if they are still in the office. Tonya Moore, I see you!


The pandemic represents a unique chapter in our lives and it is worth appreciating the good along with the challenging. The best thing we can do is take it day by day and remain present in each moment. As Kelly has said, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It will shine through. Keep persevering, everyone!

P.S. Thanks to everyone who completed my survey!

by Amanda Qubty

Everything is a bit different these days, and we’re all finding ways to navigate a world that includes significantly more digital communication than before. Consider these principles of visual hierarchy before sending your next fundraising email so you can guarantee donors are seeing the most important information first!

What is visual hierarchy?

Visual hierarchy is a method of organizing content in order of importance and influences the way users absorb it — basically, how we process information on a page.

Size and scale

The larger a font or element is on a page, the more attention it will attract. But, be careful not to make everything large; otherwise, nothing will attract attention, and it will be too overwhelming to the viewer.

Color and contrast

Bright colors are more likely to attract attention.

Note: Black copy should never be written over red background and vice versa. Review the UGA Brand website’s section on Accessibility for more  information.


An element that is separated from the alignment of other objects or text will attract more attention. However, don’t immediately choose to center text that you want to highlight as centering too many elements can become distracting.


When styles repeat, it gives readers the impression that the content is unified, boosting understanding and recognition.

Negative space

Whitespace, or negative space, around elements will allow your work to breathe, and it makes the information easier to digest, allowing users to absorb individual bits of information more easily.

Texture and style

Textures attract attention, but its style can also conflict with the important content. Be conscious and consistent with the overall arrangement of space, text and other details (photography, patterns, headlines, text with underlines, etc.) on your page.


Here are three alternative header images for this article, plus the one I chose to use. (Click on the thumbnail to view the entire image.) After reviewing the principles described above, can you spot the concerns with the other three options and why I chose to use the one I did?


For more detailed information and additional principles to consider, check out these articles and videos.

12 Visual Hierarchy Principles Every Non-Designer Needs to Know

6 Principles of Visual Hierarchy for Designers

by Melissa Lee

The field of donor relations and stewardship is relatively new. The practice has been occurring alongside fundraising in its entirety, but organizations didn’t see its success until they entered their secondor even third—round of campaignsOften, new campaigns brought new leadership. New leadership brought new fundraising philosophies, and it was difficult to link new gifts to past moments of cultivationHowever, if fundraisers did not set appropriate plans to continue relationships with annual and major donors from previous campaignsthey found themselves playing catch up when preparing to ask those same donors for increased giving the next time around. Historically, the stewardship work of note writing, one-off recognition, and event preparation was placed in the hands of assistants. These professionals were in reactive positions that responded to the immediate needs of fundraisers and administrationPublic-facing positions collected gifts, and stewardship was considered a final step. Signed by administration but accomplished by assistants, this work closed gifts while quietly setting up donors for the future.  

As we close Commit to Georgia and look to our future, reflecting on reactive decisions made in the past can give us great insight. By preparing for a growth of donors and inflation, acting on evolving trends in society and communication, and thinking about the long-term goal for our donors rather than the immediate gift athand, things can look very different when our next goal is set. Thankfully, as we begin to develop our Team Stewardship culture and consider donor relations professional path with its own expertsthat future seems much clearer.  

To continue stewarding our donors in thoughtful, sustainable ways, Donor Relations and Stewardship sees our annual matrix as a cultivation strategyOur work is more than reactive responses to gifts, fun events, and warm letters. With transparent plans for cultivation, we become accountable to ourselves, our colleagues, and our donors. By putting that plan on paper annually and following through (to the best of our ability), it becomes easier for our schools, colleges, and units to work together toward our greater goal of advancing UGA’s mission. The ability to say, with confidence, what donors can count on annually—no matter what units their gifts benefit—allows your colleagues to trust you and allows donors to trust UGA. 

Team Stewardship has been instrumental in moving the needle for stewardship at UGA, but we can do better. To make sure that our units are not under supported and that our donors can give with confidence, we encourage all units to be a part of our university-wide stewardship matrix project. By annually planning and sharing your plan with others, we can move closer to the collaborative, innovative culture that we hope for.  

If you are able, submit your annual stewardship matrix to Donor Relations and Stewardship before August 15th each year! 

Donor Relations and Stewardship Matrix 2020 

Stewardship Matrix Template 

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