Junky letter might make designers gag, but it’ll work

Unclemaynardttdmk

There are two cool things about this letter the Native American Heritage Association sent to Uncle Maynard.

You’ll notice the first thing right away:

It’s a mess!

Red! Black! Different fonts! All kinds of clashing elements all jumbled together in a visual salad.

Most designers would tell you this is bad. In a sense, they’d be right. But really, they’d be wrong. This is direct-response fundraising design. Oddly, it works. We don’t know why. But ask anyone with experience, and they’ll look past the messiness of this design and nod approvingly.

Yeah, this is how you motivate donors to give.

Nahaletter

The second thing worth noting here is the prominent placement of the Charity Navigator Four Star Charity logo.

They earned those stars, and by gum they’re going to show them off.

As they should.

Even though it only makes a messy layout even more messy.

If you have cred from watchdogs of any kind, don’t hide it. If your organization is in a charity sector that has a bad reputation (as does the Native American aid sector) make sure people can see it.

I doubt any nonprofit that has brand guidelines would allow a letter that looks like this. It’s just not cool, calm, professional enough.

Too bad. It probably does well. Better than the high-end nicer design that most of us are forced to use.

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Comments

6 responses to “Junky letter might make designers gag, but it’ll work”

  1. …And the third thing is, they did a heckuva job of creating a sense of urgency.

  2. …And the third thing is, they did a heckuva job of creating a sense of urgency.

  3. You say above that “It probably does well. Better than the high-end nicer design that most of us are forced to use.”
    But what does “well” mean? What were the results on this one…and was it a test or is this their control? How do you measure “it probably does well”? Does that mean you do not know if it did “well”?
    Basically, where is the data to back up your recommendation of this format for a letter? Would love to see it. Thanks so much!

  4. You say above that “It probably does well. Better than the high-end nicer design that most of us are forced to use.”
    But what does “well” mean? What were the results on this one…and was it a test or is this their control? How do you measure “it probably does well”? Does that mean you do not know if it did “well”?
    Basically, where is the data to back up your recommendation of this format for a letter? Would love to see it. Thanks so much!

  5. Could it be that this letter did well in spite of the graphics, not because of them? Could it do even better if the graphics were improved?

  6. Could it be that this letter did well in spite of the graphics, not because of them? Could it do even better if the graphics were improved?

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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.