Why making your fundraising easy to read matters

The cost of unclear writing or hard-to-read design may be higher than you think: When you make a message hard to understand, or even just hard to read, you encourage donors to distrust what you’re saying.

That’s the message in an excellent article that appeared recently in the Boston Globe, Easy = True.

The theory is called cognitive fluency, and it shows how people prefer things that are easy to think about over things that are hard. The article includes these insights:


  • Shares in companies with easy-to-pronounce names … outperform those with hard-to-pronounce names.
  • When people read something in a difficult-to-read font, they unwittingly transfer that sense of difficulty onto the topic they’re reading about.
  • When a personal questionnaire is presented in a less legible font, people tend to answer it less honestly.

So by all means, make it easy. It’s hard enough to get people motivated; that last thing you need to is accidentally push them toward thinking you’re no good.

Thanks to Customer Experience Matters for the tip.


Comments

4 responses to “Why making your fundraising easy to read matters”

  1. If I could post an audio comment you would hear a very hearty “AMEN” to this post. I didn’t know about “cognitive fluency.” I just know hard-to-read font annoys me and in the marketplace it depresses response. Now I also have an official name for it.
    One of my pet peeves is reverse font. The light gray on a black background coupled with small sized font seems to be popular on websites. YIKES! Who can read that and who sticks around and even tries to read it?
    And when advertising an event on a billboard or other sign along the roadway, again it’s a “frilly” style font, or too small to read in 2-3 seconds.
    In any media, can a stranger – someone totally unfamiliar with who you are and what you do – easily read and understand your core message within mere seconds?
    Way too many examples of these problems in all markets and industries.

  2. If I could post an audio comment you would hear a very hearty “AMEN” to this post. I didn’t know about “cognitive fluency.” I just know hard-to-read font annoys me and in the marketplace it depresses response. Now I also have an official name for it.
    One of my pet peeves is reverse font. The light gray on a black background coupled with small sized font seems to be popular on websites. YIKES! Who can read that and who sticks around and even tries to read it?
    And when advertising an event on a billboard or other sign along the roadway, again it’s a “frilly” style font, or too small to read in 2-3 seconds.
    In any media, can a stranger – someone totally unfamiliar with who you are and what you do – easily read and understand your core message within mere seconds?
    Way too many examples of these problems in all markets and industries.

  3. Interesting post – and very true! Its amazing how hard we sometimes make things. I found this post because I was seearching for a few more dimensions to some work we have done on making things easy through the use of the right words when talking about gifts in wills or legacies (on my blog at http://bit.ly/cpjXv6 )Its good to see someone tuned in to donors motives and behaviour!! Keep at it – will add you to my blogroll!!

  4. Interesting post – and very true! Its amazing how hard we sometimes make things. I found this post because I was seearching for a few more dimensions to some work we have done on making things easy through the use of the right words when talking about gifts in wills or legacies (on my blog at http://bit.ly/cpjXv6 )Its good to see someone tuned in to donors motives and behaviour!! Keep at it – will add you to my blogroll!!

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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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