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Every successful organization reaches a point where it needs a refresh. Whether your organization is just getting started or you’ve been around for a while, we know that resourcing is a constant challenge. 

You may recognize that your brand or website needs an update in order to reflect who you’ve become, or attract more donors, volunteers, and supporters, but you just don’t have the staff to make it happen. 

So, do you:

  • Handle it in-house off the side of your desk

  • Hire a new employee

  • Find a volunteer

  • Outsource and partner with an agency

There’s no right or wrong answer, but asking the right questions can help. Depending on the type of project, the timeline, and internal resources, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of hiring an agency to decide if it’s right for your organization. Here are some things to consider when making this important decision.

Who are the right people to get the job done?

The cornerstone of every successful organization—and something we pride ourselves on here at Briteweb—is the people. It’s the first thing to consider when deciding between in-house vs. outsourced work.

In-House Team: The Pros

  • An in-house team is valuable because they understand the ins and outs of the organization.

  • In-house teams allow for more direct control and collaboration, as team members are part of the organization.

  • While initial setup costs might be high, in-house teams can be more cost-effective if this type of project will be repeated regularly.

  • With team members on-site, feedback loops can be shorter, enabling quicker iterations and adjustments throughout the project.

In-House Team: The Cons

  • Your current team might not necessarily have the exact skill set, experience, or capacity to take on a new project.

  • Stretching your in-house resources too thin could result in a subpar final product, an unfinished project or, worse, employee burnout.

  • Hiring someone new to your team is a long-term cost and depending on the project, there could be limited growth opportunities, leading to turnover.

  • Insularity may lead to a limited perspective, potentially hindering creativity and innovation. Aka tunnel vision.

Agency Team: The Pros

  • Agencies are often experts in a specific area of work. Some agencies are masters of graphic design, some are UX aficionados, and some are brilliant at digital strategy.

  • They can bring a different perspective to the table. Think of an agency partner as an extension of your team. A fresh set of eyes to help you modernize, and introduce you to new ways of thinking. You don’t want to hire an agency full of “yes-people.”

  • Working with an agency is also a great opportunity to sharpen your own team’s skills and learn new approaches to working.

  • Agencies can scale up or down quickly based on project requirements, providing flexibility and access to a broad range of skills, budgets and timelines.

Agency Team: The Cons

  • Hiring a creative agency is dependent on the scope of the project. Smaller and simpler projects can end up being more expensive than using an in-house team.

  • While agencies may provide an initial cost estimate, unexpected additional charges could arise during the project, leading to budgetary challenges.

  • Agencies may lack in-depth knowledge about your organization’s specific industry, market nuances, or organizational culture. It’s important to ensure you’re working with an agency that specializes in social change organizations.

  • Agencies may prioritize design trends over the long-term strategic needs of the client, potentially resulting in work that becomes quickly outdated. Make sure you’re working with an agency that takes the time to understand your long-term business goals.

What’s the process of hiring an in-house vs. outsourced team?

The process of hiring an agency to re-invigorate your brand, develop your new website, design a publication or launch a campaign is similar to hiring a new team member in-house: you have to do your homework. Don’t expect to hit it off with every agency you meet. Just like individuals, different agencies have different strengths. 

Depending on your goals and what type of working relationship you’d like to have, you’ll develop your own set of criteria that best fits the needs of your team and broader organization.

Consider what matters to you most:

  • Sticking to a budget and timeline

  • A team that can adapt and work fast

  • Collaboration in-person, remote, or hybrid

  • Experience and references in your specific industry or sector

  • The size of the agency’s team or their capabilities

  • How the agency’s skillsets complement that of your in-house team

Keep these key points in mind when doing your initial research so you can find an agency that meets your requirements. Download this handy questionnaire to start the conversation with your team.

The initial research stage can be daunting and reaching out to agencies without clear goals in mind can be overwhelming. These are some great ways to start:

  • Asking colleagues, and your networks about their experiences working with agencies in the past.

  • Request recommendations from industry-relevant forums or publish a Request for Proposal (RFP).

  • Research agencies online. Read testimonials, and review case studies to understand what types of industries and capabilities an agency specializes in, and their approach to projects.

  • Book some consultation calls with a few agencies to get to know them better. We often find that the most important part of a successful partnership is that the personalities of the team gel together.

How does an agency partnership work?

An agency/client relationship looks different for everyone. That’s the best part: you get to decide together how the partnership is going to work successfully. We find the best relationships are those that value and respect each other’s opinions, seeing each other as collaborators rather than working in a hierarchical structure.

At Briteweb, we view our clients as partners and do everything we can to see them succeed. We think this philosophy plays a huge role in clients returning to engage in new projects with us year after year.

What collaboration looks like in practice

After many years of supporting schools, Leading Educators experienced a common situation among nonprofits: they outgrew their brand while they were busy making an impact. Their organization was ahead of the curve, but their outdated language and visual brand made them appear stuck in the past.

Briteweb collaborated with Leading Educators and delivered a new brand identity and communication strategy that matched the caliber of their current organization.

Today, we continue to support Leading Educators across various projects. Our partnership is always thoughtful and engaging, and our work together has earned award-winning results; receiving recognition from the International Visual Identity Awards and Communicator Awards for our design work. 

After launching the website, Briteweb and Leading Educators continued to collaborate and work iteratively together to improve the website’s digital user experience. As the organization evolved, we ensured the audience’s needs were being met, while prioritizing organizational goals and time-based messaging. 

Three years after the website launch, Leading Educators engaged Briteweb conducted a site-wide design audit. This audit identified opportunities to elevate Leading Educators’ content offerings through a refreshed User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI). The audit also opened up the opportunity to expand and leverage Leading Educators’ full colour palette, improve design accessibility and improve overall site performance.

How do you get the most out of your client-agency relationship?

Maximizing the potential of a client-agency relationship requires a mix of collaboration, communication, and strategic planning.

  • 1

    Start with a Solid Kick-Off

    Set the tone right from the beginning. Have an extensive kickoff meeting where you discuss values, goals, and success metrics. This aligns everyone on the same page and establishes a foundation for a successful partnership.

  • 2

    Invest in the Research & Insights Phase

    Take the time to understand each other during the research & insights phase. Agencies should delve into the client’s identity, mission, and impact, while clients can learn about the agency’s approach and process. The more you know, the smoother the collaboration.

  • 3

    Clear Communication Channels

    Establish transparent and open communication channels. Regular check-ins, project updates, and a clear point of contact on both sides contribute to a healthy flow of information and ideas.

  • 4

    Define Roles and Responsibilities

    Clearly outline roles and responsibilities for both the client and the agency. This helps avoid confusion, ensures accountability, and streamlines the workflow.

  • 5

    Set Realistic Expectations

    Be realistic about timelines, deliverables, and outcomes. Clear expectations prevent misunderstandings and allow both parties to work towards achievable goals.

  • 6

    Regular Feedback Loops

    Implement a system for regular feedback. Constructive feedback is a two-way street. It’s not just about critiquing the work but also acknowledging what’s working well. This continuous loop helps refine the project throughout its lifecycle.

  • 7

    Value Each Other’s Expertise

    Recognize and respect each other’s expertise. Clients bring industry knowledge, while agencies bring creative and strategic skills. A collaborative mindset, where both sides contribute their strengths, leads to a richer outcome.

  • 8

    Flexibility and Adaptability

    Be flexible and adaptable. Projects can evolve, and unexpected challenges may arise. A willingness to adapt to changes with a solution-oriented mindset fosters a resilient and productive partnership.

  • 9

    Mutual Respect and Trust

    Cultivate a relationship built on mutual respect and trust. Trust is the glue that holds partnerships together. If both parties trust each other’s judgment and intentions, it creates a positive working environment.

  • 10

    Celebrate Successes and Learn from Setbacks

    Celebrate achievements, both big and small. Acknowledging milestones and successes boosts morale and strengthens the partnership. Equally important, learn from setbacks. Use challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement.

  • 11

    Regular Check-ins Beyond Projects

    Foster a relationship beyond project boundaries. Regular check-ins, not just when a project is ongoing, but also during downtimes, help maintain a strong connection. It’s about building a long-term partnership, not just completing a project.

  • 12

    Continuous Improvement

    Embrace a culture of continuous improvement. Regularly assess what’s working and what can be enhanced. An open dialogue about improvement ensures that the partnership grows stronger over time.


By prioritizing these elements, both organizations and agencies can foster a collaborative, productive, and enduring relationship that goes beyond project boundaries and delivers exceptional results.

Set up your first meeting

Sure, there are checklists (like this one!) and articles that can help you weigh the pros and cons of in-house teams versus agency teams, but ultimately, taking some first steps to explore both options is the best starting point.

Agencies are often open to having a no-pressure first conversation to get an idea of the scope of your project and feel whether it might need external support or can be done internally.

Let us be your first call. Get in touch with us! We’ll be happy to help.