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How to make your next fundraising brochure raise even more...

NetPrintNFP works to achieve a valuable brochure design source for your non-profit group. We present a series of elegant, modern designs for your staff and volunteers to use directly or from which to draw inspiration. Work independently, or work with us to publish your brochure far and wide, online and offline. NetPrintNFP helps you provide support at local level with up-to-date content and resources. We help maximize the impact of your non-profit brand in the communities in which you serve and raise funds. You can choose to output as digital PDFs (with added navigation capability) or html. So you can distribute as web pages, printed words or electronic email. Register your organization for free here.

NetPrintNFP aims to work closely with charities and non-profits to create stunning brochure designs. A brochure layout will consist of stories, project features and calls-to-action. We provide tips, guidance and ideas to make sure your brochure content achieves professional best practice.

So let’s make your fundraising brochure a great one…

Put great story writing at the centre of your non-profit brochure

Your brochure, like all your publicity, must have a purpose. The very best charity and non-profit themes capture emotions. That means the immediacy of news or facts are less relevant whereas an issue that can be amplified through great story telling is most effective. And by using irony, humour, human interest, atmospheric and observational details your issue can be literally brought to life in your reader’s imagination. Your descriptions of people, places and your programs should be shaped and textured like a piece of art. And the best stories always have a clear beginning, an interesting middle and a conclusive end.

Your ideas and opinions are not important to a story. You must simply be a narrator. Writing in the third person will help you maintain that necessary distance. And avoid prejudging or influencing the outcome of your story at outset. When you have gathered the right information then, a clear direction or viewpoint will start to emerge.

So when researching, write down everything you encounter in your non-profit community. Emotions, passing thoughts or ideas; smells; sounds; textures; poignant details in the surroundings. At some stage they will surely help you ‘paint the scene’ because a good story is made real for your reader.

Brochure themes

Story themes for non profit organizations are most effective when they have:

HUMAN INTEREST: By using the real-life experiences of your community and the challenges they face everyday, your reader can identify with your non profit on a human scale. Volunteer profiles are always popular, and serve to both acknowledge volunteers, and show newbies a high-performing volunteer in action. Someone they can learn from and emulate.

Your organization’s beneficiaries should present a rich seam of material. 'People' stories should have an individual focus. A ‘before and after’ your non-profit service is an excellent comparison style. Present mental images which put your reader in the exact same situation. How would they feel? Who could they turn to? One life saved by one person achieves that drama. Ten thousand lives saved by hundreds simply doesn’t. And in quotes you can use real language in the first person. For example, how evocative is “I live on the street; and it sucks. But The Salvation Army helps me survive every day. I feel good about myself when I’m here.”

SEASONAL THEMES: Seasonal stories use either weather conditions or specific holiday dates to support the storyline. For example, a homeless shelter might look at winter survival through the eyes of a homeless woman. How does she cope with overcrowded shelters? Or the toe-biting cold and knotted-stomach hunger on an hour-by-hour basis?

BEHIND THE SCENES: Your aim is to show how your donor’s gift is put to work. Focus on the impact of the gift, not that you need the gift! Perhaps look at unusual occupations. Or how service issues are tackled. Or people in uplifting events. In that way can you give readers a feeling of getting into the inner circle. Reveal your "well kept secrets" and you will build the emotional investment your reader has in your non-profit charity.

HOW-TO: How-to feature stories should still centre around an event that showed your organization having an impact on its community. For example, help people learn about an issue by telling them how to do something. Whether it is how to start a recycling program, cook a meal for 100 homeless people, repair a roof for a shelter, or techniques for teaching an adult (John!) Quote "experts" where you can and any other interesting outcomes.

MILESTONES: you can highlight or commemorate important dates in the history of your organization and relate them to your community. Celebrate key milestones that you have achieved or are going to achieve with the donor’s help and investment. The 1,000th meal served to John. The 500 victims like Jane you will help next year.

The main thing to keep in mind when writing a brochure is to get to know the people you are writing about. Let yourself be open to new experiences and viewpoints which volunteers, donors and beneficiaries describe. If your sources are comfortable around you then they will be more open and inspired to help you. You are simply trying to help them reveal something special and unexpected. And you will use their story to paint the positive impact your organization makes happen.

Remember NetPrintNFP can be your non-profit’s home for all that is local marketing and brand related. Contact us here.

NetPrintNFP’s step-by-step guide to producing stunning brochures for non-profits and charities has 8 advice sections:

Step #1: Think & research your story.

Determine the purpose of your brochure and its intended audience. Amongst your objectives must be to communicate the positive impact your organization has on its beneficiaries. should include the Is it advertising an upcoming fundraising event? Is it asking for positive action right now? Does it need a form area? Is it part of a wider awareness campaign? People are so used to having thousands of advertising images thrust at them every day. So much so that ‘brochure apathy’ is a real risk! Poorly conceived brochures and/or campaigns can be ignored by everyone. So observe how other people are doing it in your area. Can you piggyback on other seasonal events going on? How do other organizations try to reach you at home or as you travel through your town? You will learn a great deal.

Step #2: Establish your creative concept

Good brochure creative catches the eye AND supports the tale. Get yourself and others to brainstorm ideas separately before bringing them together. Depth of thought and inspiration does not generally come from an open forum environment. A refresher on story-telling principles will also help everyone keep their eyes peeled and ears open.

Brochure pictures should be chosen with great care and packed with emotion. They need to support your concept, which means they support your story. Heart-strings must be pulled whenever and wherever you can. Photographs of individuals are proven to the most powerful. And there’s nothing wrong with happy (the outcome?) as an emotion as well as sad (the original situation) !

If your non-profit charity has a set of brand guidelines, then the core colour choices for your brochure may already be set. (Remember NetPrintNFP helps any organization deliver this kind of brand control into its community). If not, then tools like our colour wheel can help you combine colours in a complementary way.

Step #3: Brochure formats & sizing

Wherever your fundraising brochure is distributed it has to work hard for you. The glance/scan/read principle applies in all situations. Try out the ‘3 second test’ on friends to see if your brochure cover design is effective. Do they recall its main message?

A4 size is practical and easy to distribute if it needs to be mailed in envelopes or put in post trays/pigeon holes. DL (1/3 A4 x 6 pages) and A5 are convenient formats for marketing flyers. Bespoke sizes (eg, 200 x 200mm square) stand out from the crowd but are likely to be more expensive to produce per copy. NetPrintNFP knows that budget is at the heart of many decisions. But decisions need to be taken for the right reasons. Don’t compromise the strength of your message for the sake of a few extra pounds. Moving to a larger format or extra pages may increase overall cost by 20% but give you the freedom to really get your message across. After all, response rates will determine the success of your brochure, not simply production costs. But that is not an invitation to overproduce!

All your marketing material (other than Thank-you’s!) need a positive call-to-action, right now. Brochures are no different. Even if mailed with a request letter, the two might get separated some time in the donor’s possession.

And consider your distribution channels. Door dropping is suited to sizes A5 and smaller, else the extra weight means more refills per street and a less enthusiastic, less productive volunteer corps! Display points in shops, restaurants or hotels might be available to you – so which size matches the POS holders best?

Step #4: Layout Design 101

The eye journey on any page or spread starts at the upper middle position. It then tracks top left to bottom right. Remember you have less than 3 seconds to draw in the attention of your audience - before they reach for the nearest bin! So if you are using a familiar image let it have centre stage. That may be a well-known person, place or activity. You will need permission from whoever owns the image or use to discover thousands of images under creative commons licensing(?).

Don't be afraid to use space in your brochure design. Space allows focus on the things that really matter. Too much clutter and your reader’s eye, and their mind, starts to wander. You must earn the right for them to read on. So on every page keep the “headline glance/sub-head scan/body text read” principle ticking over.

Use tint boxes sparingly. Use them to pull out key messages or to break up a page layout when photos are not available.

It is not easy to read lines and words that are solely in capital letters,

e.g. HEADLINE STYLES vs Headline Styles.

Be careful with logos. Use sparingly. Perhaps once on the front and once on the back will suffice.

Don’t put text too close to the edge of the paper or too close to the edges of boxes.

Keep to brand guidelines and use eye-pleasing complementary colours in addition. Check out the NetPrintNFP colour wheel for advice.

If you really must present information and statistics, please use some imagination. Go back to childhood. Pictograms are great. Pie charts are ok with 2 or 3 segments but not much use if more.

Be clear about what you want your reader to do. You defined its purpose in Step#1, so make sure you deliver the ‘call-to-action’ whatever that might be. Be consistent with your points of contact and offer different channels (phone, email, text etc). The back of the brochure is where people expect to find this information.

Step #5: Font choice & Typography

If your non-profit charity works with brand guidelines (choose NetPrintNFP) then font choice will already be assigned for your brochure design. Else, a good rule of thumb is to use two fonts in your brochure creation, and at most three. Ultra-stylish sans serif fonts are great in headlines. They also offer a more contemporary look and feel. More traditional serif fonts provide an authoritative, professional look. Your body of text narrative however, should be in the 10-12pt size range and will always read best in a serif font.

By using variations in font weight, size, spacing and colour you will have plenty of flexibility for your brochure design.

Step #6: Keep it Simple, Stupid!

‘Less is more’ is a good principle in any marketing. A well constructed fundraising brochure is no different. A common mistake is to put too much information on any single page of a fundraising brochure.

Get the important message out there in as few dramatic pictures and words as possible. People will read your support information if you’ve won their attention in their first 3 seconds. Populate your brochure story with rich, descriptive and imaginative words. Bring the positive impact your organization has into the mind of your reader. Does your brochure’s story have a logical beginning, middle and end?

Step #7: Preparation & Timing

‘Allow yourself enough time’ is valuable advice so rarely taken. Aim to start your brochure design 3-4 weeks prior to your date for use. That means your brochure design thinking and research should begin at least 6-7 weeks prior to your marketing activity date. If you have a rolling system for gathering suitable stories you may shave a little time. However, artistic disagreements can hole the best planning. And brochure proofing can sometimes fall short because people suffer from ‘checking fatigue’. The length of the project and number of reworks may mean someone proofreads several times. They begin to scan the brochure instead. A good tip is to always have a fresh pair of eyes proof-read your brochure at the latest of stages.

Else you risk something like this happening:

Else you risk something like this happening

Production itself can be as short as 2-3 days. But allow 5-8 days in your plan. Else you could end up paying higher premiums from some suppliers for very fast turnaround. And remember, it takes time and organization to reach all your distributors and locations.

Step#8: Production & implementation

Make sure you pick your suppliers well when planning your non-profit brochure campaign. Make sure your quote includes all possible costs inc. delivery. NetPrintNFP is transparent about pricing and you can use this information to ensure you know you are getting a good deal, wherever you go. 130gm stock is a minimum advisable for brochure style leaflets. 150-170gm or higher is better for booklet stitched versions.

NetPrintNFP automatically takes care of file type and preparation, making sure

  • Your documents have the correct bleed.
  • Your colours and pictures are converted from RGB to CMYK.
  • Your document achieves the highest quality resolution (up to 300dpi)
  • All fonts used are going to print out correctly as your proof
  • Your fold lines are in the correct position.

But if you are supplying to a third party make sure you are clear on the exact file format required.

Some printing services only offer fundraising brochures with large set-up fees, which makes the task of ordering the right amount at outset difficult. NetPrintNFP does not. The advent of digital print machines makes small runs (below 250) viable and NetPrintNFP will not charge set-up fees on any reorders. So there is no reason for you to feel constrained by someone who tells you to over order. However, with larger quantities (>500 brochures) an extra 500-1,000 for between £20-£40 extra might well be worth it when set against your own time, inconvenience and ability to respond to requests quickly. Don’t over order – just be well informed.

NetPrintNFP offers fundraising and event brochures to interact with donors, sponsored fundraisers, friends, volunteers, employees, benefactors, corporate partners and the general public. We simply help you nurture those people who would have a positive impact on your community and its ambitions.

Choose NetPrintNFP fundraising brochures for your next Charity event or campaign

Your Brand & content – always protected, and always fully invested for maximum impact

Value Brochure Pricing – no set-up fees, pricing from just £3!

Best practice Knowledge Distribution – show your community what has worked well at local level

Innovation & Inspiration - new ideas to keep you fresh in your local communities

Reliable – high quality, fast and dependable brochure production.