Why fundraising looks the way it looks

Why is fundraising so “ugly”?

Personally, I find it hard to call activities that power so many of the world’s good deeds ugly — but I understand the question. Most effective fundraising has a clunky, out-dated, not-so-pretty look.

Some people who come to our field without experience think it’s because we’re just kind of clumsy and don’t know how to make it nicer-looking. That’s not it, at least not most of the time.

Here’s a good explanation from Seth Godin, at Pretty websites:

…the worldview of people who are likely to sign up, ‘like,’ share, click, act and generally take action instantly is not the same worldview of people that convert into long-term, loyal customers over time.

Unattractive high-response sites aren’t usually the result of a lack of taste or talent on the part of the designer, they’re optimized for one worldview.

On the web or in the mail, fundraising is in that “unattractive high-response” category. I know people who spend their entire careers pounding their head against that wall, trying again and again to get response by making it “pretty.”

It doesn’t work. And I can’t imagine how soul-crushingly frustrating it must be.


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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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