Why brochures don’t raise money

May 17, 2013

In a well-done brochure, the targeted words and carefully-chosen images tell a visible and compelling story that makes us all feel fantastic about what we do. So why are we still stuck with plain old fundraising letters and emails?

Great fundraising is fundamentally a person-to-person activity. One person asks another person for money.

A brochure isn’t “from” anyone. And it isn’t “to” anyone. While it may open a door, or spark some deeper feeling, it will rarely succeed in directly raising funds, because no one is actually doing the asking, which makes it easy to say no.

Great fundraising also allows the prospective donor to paint a picture in their own mind that resonates personally. 

A brochure is your story, not theirs. Perhaps your piece is filled with images of kids that remind them of the noisy kids down the block. Or perhaps it has stunning photos of bears and coyotes, but they love birds. You get the picture.

If they can’t put themselves in your picture, they’ll remain a rational observer rather than an engaged participant. While brochures can play an important role in branding and awareness-building, it can be risky to build actual revenue expectations around them.