How to design your fundraising so it can actually be read

“Inclusive

So far in this series about Inclusive Fundraising, we’ve focused on reading and attention issues that make reading a challenge for many people — by some accounts, about 20% of the population in the US deals with these challenges.

There’s another set of issues that make reading difficult for even more people: visual acuity issues. These range from presbyopia (which affects nearly everyone in their 40s or older to complete blindness — and everything in between.

Since donors are mostly people in the 60s and up, the percentage who deal with visual challenges approaches 100%

If you care about being accessible to everyone and making it possible for everyone to participate in your cause — you need to care a lot about design that promotes readability.

Here are some principles that can make your messages more accessible for more people:

  • Font. Choose clean, uncomplicated fonts. Avoid fonts with very thin strokes. (Hint: if the font name includes “Light” or “Extra Light” it’s probably super hard to read. In print, favor serif fonts.
  • Font size. If you want people to read it, use 12 point or larger.
  • Type color. Black. Any other color for body type is meaningfully harder to read. (Other colors for headlines can be okay — if the color is dark.)
  • Background color. White. Color behind type makes it hard to read. And by all means, don’t place type over a photo!
  • Reverse type. Just don’t do it. Ever.
  • White space.
  • Line length. Maximum line length: 55–60 characters. Beyond that it’s a barrier to reading.
  • Spacing between lines. Also called “leading,” after the old days when lines of type were separated by strips of lead (the metal). Lines should not be too close or too far from each other. Leading should be 1.5 to 2 points.
  • Paper type. Avoid using glossy finish paper. It casts unwanted reflections that degrade readability.

This is far from everything you should know about design for readability. Coming up, we’ll look at design for screen readers, a wonderful (and steadily improving technology) that makes digital content much more accessible for many readers.

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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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