Are Nonprofit Brochures For Spreading Information, Or Gathering Donations?

  • by Shala Graham
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We will start out by admitting that this is a trick question: The correct answer is a nonprofit brochure could be for spreading information or attracting donations... or, it could do both. So why raise the issue at all? Because the trick to making any of these work is to decide what you are trying to accomplish from the beginning of the process, not later when you're already deep in the copywriting and design.

Too many charitable organizations take a "kitchen sink" approach to writing and designing brochures. They simply figure that if they mention everything they think they should—from the mission statement to donation details and contact information for the executive board—people will find what they're looking for and act on it.

But how often does that really happen in the real world?

Take a lesson from the Fortune 500 corporations who spend big money on getting their collateral marketing materials right. An electronics manufacturer, for example, doesn't try to sell you their entire catalog in a two-page PDF; instead, they tell you everything you need to know about a commercial-grade copier to get you to call and meet with the salesperson. In other words, they begin with the simple objective and then design their materials to best serve that goal.

Your nonprofit brochure should be structured the same way. In fact, all of your marketing and fundraising materials should, at least to a certain degree. That makes creating them simpler, but also requires that you make some tough decisions at the beginning of the process. The hard part isn’t deciding what to include, but what to leave out.

If you can't decide what the focus of your nonprofit brochure should be, then consider a handful of different outcomes and try to decide which one would be best, and/or most realistic. If that doesn't help, consider talking with your creative team to get their input. If they are familiar with nonprofits and fundraising, they should be able to offer some valuable perspective.

No matter how you arrive at critical decisions, however, resist the urge to dump everything into your nonprofit brochure. That might be easier than simplifying your message, but it isn't nearly as effective.