Stupid disaster fundraising

It didn’t take long for the bad fundraising messages to crawl out of the cellar in response to the Haiti earthquake.

Here’s an example of run-amok abstractionism, from the People of The United Methodist Church. I’m guessing the Methodists got some help from an ad agency on this one. Who else could have screwed up such a simple, compelling message?

United-Methodist-Church-haiti

As we often do with fundraising messages of this type, we have astoundingly unreadable design. It’s as if some demented design teacher told the class: Quick! Name five things that decrease the readability of text!?

All caps! the class called out. Sans serif fonts! Reverse type! Type over an image! Extra-wide leading!

An evil smile spread across the instructor’s face. Now use all of those things in one layout!

But the weirdness didn’t stop there. While most normal humans understand and interact with other humans by looking at their faces, this ad seems to think connection happens when you put your face five inches away from somebody’s hands. Pores! Wrinkles! That’ll make people feel the connection!

And the clever splicing of the two photos so it looks like it includes some creepy double-ended free-floating fingers. Maybe that will startle someone into action.

Of course, the poor design may be not such a bad thing, as reading the copy doesn’t really help. It reads like a bad haiku:

OF ALL THE THINGS EARTHQUAKES CAN DESTROY THE HUMAN SPIRIT IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

Philosophical abstractions have never before in human history moved people to action. I wonder what made them think it would work this time?

Of course, there is something that’s sort of a second-cousin of a call to action: FIND OUT HOW TO HELP THE PEOPLE OF HAITI. Of course, when you follow the URL (10THOUSANDDOORS.ORG) you arrive at a page that’s about a lot of different things.

Next time you need to put together a fundraising campaign, put your self-indulgent artsy visions in the drawer until you’re done. They don’t get you anywhere. And really, it’s just as creative and challenging to be literal and clear in a motivating way.

The message doesn’t get any clearer or more concrete in video:

Or watch it here at YouTube.

More here and here.

Thanks to Osocio for the tip.

More Stupid Nonprofit Ads here.


Comments

2 responses to “Stupid disaster fundraising”

  1. I totally agree. I don’t get it. I spent a few minutes thinking about it, and still don’t get it. I thought maybe they’d do something in the video with the hands, like that Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors, see the people. But no. Just hands in prayer. Hmmm.

  2. I totally agree. I don’t get it. I spent a few minutes thinking about it, and still don’t get it. I thought maybe they’d do something in the video with the hands, like that Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors, see the people. But no. Just hands in prayer. Hmmm.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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