Book Excerpt: Plain, Corny and Obvious
Second Law: Make it corny. I've known fundraisers who've spent their whole careers pointlessly fighting the Second Law, trying to create classy, modern, nice-looking appeals they'd feel good about showing around.
Corny design that works well in fundraising is old-fashioned, unsophisticated and ugly (personally, I hesitate to call design that makes the world a better place "ugly" — that seems more like a definition of "beautiful").
Third Law: Make it obvious. I like puzzles. Give me a few idle moments and a crossword or a Sudoku, and I'm happy. Like most people, I like the small victories of discovering something that's hidden.
But I view with perfect hatred any puzzle I'm forced to do. Complicated tax forms. Expense reports that won't reconcile. Anything to do with insurance.
You aren't the IRS. Donors can walk away from your puzzle the moment they realize they're having to work to figure out what you're saying.
Don't let that happen! Design everything so it's completely puzzle free: Place a dotted line over every perforation or anyplace you want people to cut or tear. If there's no perforation, add a little graphic of scissors cutting along the line to really make it clear.
- Put important points in bigger and bolder type.
- Have arrows pointing at places where you want people to look.
- Include a phrase like "Please turn page" at the bottom of the page when copy continues on to the other side.
- Use plenty of underlining.
- Use starbursts to call attention to key points.
The main thing to remember about making it obvious is this: if the donor has to figure it out, she probably won't. And hardly anything is self-evident.