Why you should probably trash your general brochure

Perhaps the single biggest waste of time and money in fundraising is the general brochure.

Brochure

That’s because of what it usually sets out to do:

It explains “what we do.”

It shows how superior our processes are.

It brags about how long we’ve been around, what awards we’ve won, and how famous our CEO/Founder is.

I’ve noticed that many general brochures focus in on what we don’t do — as if that could possibly be of any interest to donors.

Basically, most nonprofit general brochures are a four-color exercise in chest-thumping.

Which is a complete waste of time, money, ink, and paper.

It doesn’t have to be that way. If your general brochure spent its energy bragging about the donor instead of the organization, you’d have something powerful on your hands.

If it was about…

What you can do through us.

How much difference you can make when you give through us.

Why you can trust us, why others trust us, and what third parties have said about us. (This is the part that comes closest to bragging, but if you’re really good, it won’t be braggy.)

And it never, ever, talks about what you don’t do. Because that’s worse than boring. It’s annoying.

That kind of general brochure would support fundraising. Not undermine it, the way the other kind does.

But here’s another thing about brochures: In direct mail, even a good brochure usually depresses response.

There are too many brochures in the world. Maybe you can do you part in decreasing the overpopulation of brochures by not creating any at all.


Comments

4 responses to “Why you should probably trash your general brochure”

  1. Darrel Avatar

    Interesting thoughts. I like the idea of focusing on the donor. After all anyone working in sales knows that most people are tuned to WIIFM.
    Though fundraising isn’t sales necessarily it’s a close cousin.
    What about groups that work with community organizations and those related organizations say things like, “We would love to tell our parents about what you’re doing. Do you have a brochure?”
    What could we use for these outreach moments instead of a brochure. I’m sure that 99% of ours get tossed.

  2. Darrel Avatar

    Interesting thoughts. I like the idea of focusing on the donor. After all anyone working in sales knows that most people are tuned to WIIFM.
    Though fundraising isn’t sales necessarily it’s a close cousin.
    What about groups that work with community organizations and those related organizations say things like, “We would love to tell our parents about what you’re doing. Do you have a brochure?”
    What could we use for these outreach moments instead of a brochure. I’m sure that 99% of ours get tossed.

  3. Darrel, get your organization invited to speak to those parents instead.

  4. Darrel, get your organization invited to speak to those parents instead.

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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.