Page Layout Tools for Nonprofits
The goal is to reach the full feature set of InDesign. Scribus is not there yet, but well on its way. Aside from that, the only main shortcoming is unfamiliarity — the user interface is different from Adobe’s, so if you are familiar with Adobe’s products, Scribus may take some getting used to. But if you are completely new to page layout software, the interface will be no more confusing than any other.
Quark is InDesign’s direct competitor and tends to be more popular with newspaper and magazine paginators than with graphic designers. It boasts many of the same features and capabilities as InDesign, but a different user interface. If you’re looking to invest in a new piece of software, InDesign or Scribus probably makes more sense (especially when you consider Quark’s $799 retail price), but if you already have Quark, it will almost certainly do what you need, if you invest in training. It runs on both Macs and PCs, but the Mac version appears to be better supported.
Making a decision
For some organizations, software is not the solution to their graphic design needs — hiring a designer on a per-project basis is. There are plenty of good designers out there who can help you create or maintain a brand identity and add an air of professionalism to materials to help attract or retain donors.
For others, software is exactly what the doctor ordered. Just like many offices have an accidental techie — someone whose computer skills are better than average who finds themselves either volunteering or drafted for advanced computer-related projects — some offices also have an accidental designer. Make it more official, and invest a little time and money in resources and materials to help that person do a better job.
Maybe the best option is the middle ground — hiring a designer to create a few templates and teach you or someone on staff how to update, customize and maintain them. It’s easier than starting from scratch and will produce more polished end results at a more affordable cost.