The power of plain in fundraising

How many times have you been told to create direct mail fundraising that’s “bold,” “colorful,” “noticeable”?

There’s a good chance that’s the wrong approach, according to the Avalon blog, at Dispelling Myths: “Our Packages Should Be More Interesting”:

… the data-driven truth is that popular and visually pleasing images, photos, color, gloss, and inserts do not always lead to better direct mail performance.

I can vouch for that. Plain-looking direct mail often performs best. I wouldn’t say fancy doesn’t work. It can. But plain, simple, boring direct mail is the winner much of the time.

That’s not to say you should never create “standout” mail. It can work too. In fact, my experience says variety is one of the best approaches you can use — fancy, plain, and in-between. But plain is usually the best bet.

Don’t let your (or your boss’s or board’s) need for high-end looking material lead you away from the simple truth that simple design can be most effective.


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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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