Keep It Simple. Really
But then, just as I was starting to get sleepy, things got interesting. In the fourth experiment, Oppenheimer wanted to show that "any manipulation that substantially reduces fluency" would lower the reader's view of the writer's intelligence.
Participants were given an excerpt from a different personal essay. Everyone read the same excerpt, except this time half the essays were printed in standard Times Roman font and half were printed in italicized Juice ITC. Both fonts were 12 point.
The result? When the same text was written in a different font, one that was more difficult to read, the same thing happened — readers rated the author as less intelligent than the simple font.
That's not all. In post-experiment interviews, participants readily attributed the font selection to the experimenter, not the author. Yet they still judged the author whose essay was printed in Juice ITC as less intelligent.
As secure fundraisers, we may not be worried about how smart the reader thinks we are. But whether she thinks the letter signer is intelligent matters a lot.
Second, and just as important, the study is a clear indicator that anything that makes the reader's job harder, no matter how insignificant it might seem, is a turn-off.
The study's subjects read all the essays in their entirety because they had to. Your readers and mine have no obligation to read any of our package. If their job becomes even a little bit difficult, the package is toast.
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 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, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.