7 things every fundraiser should know about design

Design makes a difference. A well designed fundraising message does better than a poorly designed one.

But what’s the difference between good and bad design?

It’s probably not what’s taught in design school.

In fact, beautiful, pleasing, impressive design — the kind that wins awards and gets you good grades in design school — is usually not good design in fundraising.

Here are some tips from MarketSmart, at 7 ways to make sure your print designs win hearts and minds (not design awards):

  1. Make the fonts at least 12 point. 14 point is even better.
  2. Use mostly serif fonts.
  3. Make sure there is space between lines in the copy.
  4. Avoid putting copy blocks with long sentences and paragraphs in reverse text or various colors.
  5. White space is ok.
  6. Remember that we’re trying to communicate, not win design awards.
  7. Don’t ever put photos or faded images and artwork behind copy.

This can be a struggle for some designers. Especially young designers who have advanced training. They sometimes have trouble with our focus simplicity and readability, and our lack of interest in being modern and aesthetically pleasing.

But they can learn. And when they do, they’ll not only help raise more money … they’ll enjoy their work 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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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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