In Fundraising, Beauty is Results


Like “make it bigger” in graphic design, good direct response fundraisers are well served by a refrain of our own:

“Make it plainer.”

It’s counterintuitive like so much of direct response fundraising, but it couldn’t be truer. In head-to-head tests, the simplest, least “fancy” email/direct mail/web campaigns almost always win.

Like this envelope, for example …


… which drove better results than this one:


Or this email …



… which generated 4 times the results of its more visually attractive counterparts.

Susan Paine of Human Rights Campaign hit the nail on the head a few years ago when she said, “If you love it, it will fail.” If your direct response creation is exceptionally pretty and colorful … if you find yourself dismissing possible strategic changes to it because they might sully the perfect design symmetry or a poetic turn of phrase … if you’re really in to how radically “different” it is … then you have probably veered into dangerous territory, and your results are at risk.

Keep your eyes wide open and see those ugly direct response ducklings for what they really are: imminent beauty, imminent results.


Add a Comment