The beauty of ugly fundraising

Here’s a truth that might make some fundraisers unhappy: Ugly usually outperforms beautiful in any kind of direct response. Include fundraising.

Check out this post from the Direct Creative Blog: Ugly direct mail works and here’s why.

Ugly direct mail works because there’s no design to get in the way. This has been proven through experience. I’ve even seen the results of head-to-head ugly vs. pretty tests…. My advice: never be afraid to test ugly direct mail. It’s not a branding medium. It’s a direct response medium. Do what works to get response.

If you can only be fulfilled by creating works of great beauty, fundraising is probably not the life for you. Fundraisers learn to see the results of their work as the beauty we create.

Ugly beats beautiful. You can pretty much count on it every time. Once you embrace this truth, you’re on your way to greatness. Also:


  • Simple beats complex.
  • Corny beats tasteful.
  • Literal beats abstract.
  • Emotional beats rational.


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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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About the blogger

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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