photoshop alternatives

Nonprofit Photo Licensing and Free Photoshop Alternatives

In the world of social media for nonprofits, striking visuals are just as important as engaging messages in 140 characters or less. But before you pull images off Google or spend hundreds of dollars on Adobe Photoshop, it’s a good idea to study up on photo licensing and free Photoshop alternatives.

Creative Commons: Easily Understanding Photo Licensing 

Some may think that it’s perfectly acceptable to repost images found using Google Image Search, but it’s not perfectly acceptable, and it is imperative for your nonprofit to have a solid understanding of photo licensing.

Using or manipulating images that are not your own may incur serious consequences if you violate the photo’s license. An easy way to avoid these consequences is by using images licensed under the Creative Commons, “a nonprofit that offers an alternative to full copyright.”

A great place to find Creative Commons images is on Flickr, but it’s important to understand and follow Creative Commons’ simple rules on how (and if) the image may be used. Even if you are not using Flickr to find images, most stock photo websites abide to CC’s rules.

Now that we have an understanding on how to look for licenses for public images, we’re ready to use photo manipulation tools.

Free Photoshop Alternatives for Nonprofits

If you have never used it, Photoshop is costly to purchase and can be extremely complicated at times. However, the beauty of the Internet is that many free imaging programs are available in lieu of Photoshop. The following programs will help your nonprofit enhance its visuals.


GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a free program that is ideal for tasks such as photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring. You can download it at


Pixlr is a free online image editor that allows you to fix, adjust, and filter images without leaving your browser. Check it out at


Sumopaint’s super-responsive interface and painstakingly optimized image processing engine makes using it one of the more unique image editors. The basic app is free, but has ads. You can upgrade for as little as $9 for a lifetime license. Learn more at


PicMonkey lets you transform your photos with “fast, easy, and gorgeous effects.” It’s simple interface is good for novice photo editors. Check them out at

Now that you’ve got a good idea of how to legally manipulate images, check out our blog posts on establishing a visual direction and when to use illustration. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.