A Postcard is Worth a Thousand Reports: Design Inspiration From the National Parks Conservation Association

Need a little design inspiration? The National Parks Conservation Association took us inside their "Telling America's Stories" campaign. Instead of reports or fact sheets, they told a compelling story with gorgeous postcards.

Many nonprofits release report after report filled with pages of dense text, but at the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the four-person creative team is always looking for more compelling ways to tell a story. Case in point: The "Telling America's Stories" campaign.

It's a perfect example of creativity and innovation, two of the themes in this year's Creative Team of the Future project. Let's take a closer look at what makes this seemingly old-school campaign so cutting


A postcard is a quick, effective and memorable way to tell a story, and the limited space forces you to be succinct.

This campaign started with a staff member on NPCA's government affairs team, which was advocating for several new national parks and the expansion of some existing parks. Before making her case to Congress, she tapped the in-house creative team for help.Instead of fact sheets or a report, they decided to tell the story of these 13 places in a more unique way. "I said, 'What if we created postcards?'" says Scott Kirkwood, senior director of publications for NPCA. "The thinking was: If these parks are created, these are the postcards you'd send to your family and friends.

The "Telling America's Stories" icon ties all the postcards together while the gorgeous typography and imagery grabs attention

In place of an address, each postcard features a quote to draw people into the longer story at the left.Kirkwood's team tapped an outside freelance designer to create the postcards but handled the text and photo editing in-house. In the end, they created 300 postcard packets that were handed out to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. There's also a web component that features these visually compelling postcards online.

These beautiful postcards ended up on bulletin boards in several Congressional offices, where they were seen again and again.

"Photography is really important," Kirkwood says. "I think a lot of people who are in advocacy organizations forget. They just say, 'Look, here are all the facts.' But we're human beings and we like to see photos. Images connect with us much more quickly and draw us in."

For more inspiration, download The Creative Group's new report, Innovation in the House: Creativity Lessons From Five Top In-House Creative Teams.