6 Ways to Give Your Readers a Helpful Hand
Donors rarely read. First they glance. Then they scan. If you want them to read, you need to give them a hand.
That’s why we always include a P.S. It’s why we keep paragraphs shorter than seven lines. And it’s why we sometime include “handwritten” margin notes. (I put the word in quotes because what we usually mean is that we use a font that’s meant to simulate handwriting.)
“Handwriting” immediately gets attention and makes the letter look a lot more personal. That’s the theory anyway. Unfortunately, sometimes, we take for granted the extra power “handwriting” can add to a letter and overlook one little detail: Most handwritten fonts don’t look like handwriting at all.
Now, most readers are willing to grant you a certain amount of verisimilitude, but you’ve got to meet them halfway. Here are six ways to give your readers a helpful hand.
Make it legible
Especially for older readers. Think of all those wedding invitations that come in “elegant” fonts like Edwardian Script? They may look very high-tone in that context, but even in short doses they can be a struggle to read. It’s unlikely your donor is even going to bother trying.
Use it sparingly
“Handwritten” copy should be the Sriracha sauce of a package. Use just enough to spice up the page and make it interesting. But too much is too much. Just use it to call out a few hot items, and quit while you’re ahead.
Make the font fit the signer
You’d be surprised how often someone in the collaborative creative process hears, “Use a handwritten font,” and just plugs one of the three or four standard ones so often defaulted to. But watch your mail pieces, and you’ll marvel at how many different CEOs seem to have the same handwriting and how much that handwriting looks suspiciously like Brush Script Std.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.