Pretty is more than skin deep

Pretty is more than skin deep

By R. Trent Thompson, Brand & Marketing Strategist

I’m like a dog with a hambone. Can’t let this one go.

I want to circle back to those two alleged dirty words – “pretty” and “professional” – that I took issue with in a previous post, “One Ugly Does Not Fit All.” Adjectives used by a few to categorically condemn a very viable approach to creating successful fundraising appeals.

As I see it, part of the problem is the loose or vague definitions given by some. After all, what do they mean by pretty? What does professional look like to them?

Using such modifiers without proper context can do more harm than good for a sh*t-ton of year-end fundraising campaigns. How? By discouraging nonprofits to explore new and differentiating ways to connect with donors. To really connect.

As shared in that previous post, “One Ugly Does Not Fit All,” @TammyZonker and I don’t use words like “pretty” and “professional.” We use words like “innovative” and “strategic.” That said, we do acknowledge that innovative and strategic can have the appearance of looking pretty or professional on the surface. However, after building many highly successful omnichannel fundraising campaigns, it has been our tried-and-proven experience that pretty is more than skin deep.

Let’s put a little meat on this bone.

First, your fundraising campaigns should be omnichannel. Period. They should be rooted in robust campaign strategy, and heavily informed by donor data including personas, gift transaction and communication preferences, giving patterns, and other insightful data.

Your omnichannel fundraising campaigns should be a carefully choreographed and seamlessly integrated mix of – to use their terms – “pretty” and “professional” applied consistently across donor-preferred channels. They should illustrate donor impact. Include relevant and authentic stories. Use the right images and video to help powerfully tell those stories. Employ a barista’s blend of the right fonts, colors, layout, and messaging to help the donor understand the journeys of those you serve. To feel their pain and struggle on a deeper and more emotional level.

What do we mean by pretty? What does professional look like to us? How do they work hard to make your appeal tunnel below the skin’s surface to tug on the heart and move the mind? Here’s an example:

The above example is from the successful “Hear Me, Love Me, Heal Me” omnichannel year-end fundraising campaign created by @TammyZonker and I for The Children’s Center in Detroit.

You can bet your bottom dollar there will be a select few who trip over themselves moving so fast to slap on the skin-deep labels of “pretty” and “professional.” They may even skin a knee or chip a tooth in their haste.

Applying such labels would be most unfortunate and irresponsible. Causing lost opportunities for many organizations.

While the result is a fundraising campaign that may look pretty or professional to some, done right, it can go much deeper. It can touch the hearts and move the minds of your donors. Speak to their needs. Inspire them to want to be a part of the incredible work you’re doing. To help advance your mission. To give.


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