Then charities came along…
Now, relatively often, things need to look home-made, rough-round-the-edges, grubby. Real.
And ‘real’ is the key here. The nature of the beast that is ‘charity’ is that people – donors, campaigners, supporters – don’t want to see their money going to waste. So, if some flashy, foil-blocked, 400gsm, full-bleed, die-cut, ever-so-beautiful piece of communication drops through your door asking for £15, chances are you aren’t gonna part with your hard-earned cash.
Now, this isn’t rocket science. It’s nothing more than common sense. The things we’re sending into people’s lives need to be believable more than anything else. But at a time when lots of people are more concerned with ‘building their brand’ (read: make the logo bigger), than creating something that actually works, it’s not always the easiest argument to have.
The one thing you can’t argue against though is results. Throughout 2010, we’ve produced ‘inside track’ communications for WWF, World Jewish Relief and Medical Foundation to name but three that have all performed unbelievably well. The most interesting thing about all of this, though, is the fact that these photocopied, straight-from-the-desk-of-the-CEO packs work best for high value donors.
When I first started at Open, I found it absurd that those people who give you the most money end up getting the least beautiful communications. Logic dictates it should be the other way round – surely you get what you pay for? Logic doesn’t necessarily build successful campaigns though, reason does. And when you think about it, a piece of communication that is believable and real and personal can only serve to bring your most valued donors even closer to the charity. Mass-produced will work for some, but the cream of your donor crop need to feel special, wanted and close.
Don’t worry about me though – as we begin to meet a lot of donors online and through their phones, there’s lots of beautiful design still to be done too!