Does beauty have a place in fundraising? David Burrows says fundraisers should perhaps pay more attention to beautiful things which inspire people to give.
I saw a piece the other day where a US web designer listed 40 ‘Beautiful and Inspiring non-profit websites’.
My first reaction was to dismiss this – designers can get excited about beauty but hard-nosed fundraisers like us, particularly those of us schooled in direct mail, are almost instinctively suspicious of beauty in fundraising.
We prefer the typewriter letter, the grainy, photocopied memo, the hastily enclosed Polaroid picture with a scribbled message on the back. I’ve talked to lots of fundraisers about the digital projects but have rarely seen ‘create something beautiful’ appear on the list of objectives. Perhaps if we are raising funds to save a heritage site, or an endangered species, then the beauty of the subject matter will spill over into our fundraising communications. But these are exceptions to the rule.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be so hasty.
The key phrase here is ‘beautiful and inspiring’. Our job is to inspire people and beauty is one of the tools we can use to do this – even when the subject matter of our appeal doesn’t immediately sound promising. After all, if anything is beautiful, the act of freely giving money to help another human being is surely a beautiful thing. I think the best of these sites convey this. If the experience of supporting good cause was more attractive and inspiring then perhaps more people would return for second and third gifts.
Some of these sites appear ‘beautiful and inspiring’ simply because they make good use of beautiful and poignant photography. So if nothing else, don’t scrimp on photography or try and save a few quid by hiring your uncle’s mate who used to do weddings. Excellent photography will pay for itself.
Have you got a beautiful fundraising website? Please share!