In the age of web-based information such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter, there is still something to be said for the printed page, at least from my middle-aged perspective. I’m always game for a good read, not to mention, the sensory experience of glossy pages and beautiful, colour photos. These are things that, if done well, can connect us with our thoughts and feelings, as well as other like-minded people.

Nowhere is that more important than when putting together a brochure or case for support for your organization, and below are some basic rules of thumb to give your reader the best possible experience.

Read ‘Em and Weep

The best way to connect people to your cause is through emotion and storytelling. While it’s not necessary to have folks reaching for the Kleenex box, conveying your message should be done with honesty, conviction, and a clear sense of what you’re all about.

Making sure the writing is donor-centric and inviting is key. Consider hiring a professional writer, who can capture all the details with an unbiased slant. Use a variety of storytellers to bring your organization’s work to life and illustrate real-world impact.

Pro Tip: Make sure the copy is final before moving on to the artwork stage. This will help minimize the back and forth with the designer and keep artwork editing costs down.

It’s All About the Look

Once you are sure copy is finalized, it’s time to dive into the visual details. Again, it’s important to find a good, professional graphic designer who has experience with this type of work. They can ensure you are designing for your audience.

Pro Tip: If most of your donor base is made up of Boomers (and it probably is!), it’s extremely important to design the artwork so they can see what you want them to read! Older eyes need larger font sizes, such as 12 or 13 point (I’m 49 and have a hard time reading the fine print, even with my reading glasses on!).  As a rule, black serif fonts work best. Try to avoid a white font on a coloured background.

Other great ways to capture your reader’s attention include using powerful combinations of imagery and language. Pair engaging pull-out quotes with complementary images.  Create pages with lots of white space, and use beautiful photos of people – straight on, i.e. eye contact.  Remember, people relate to people.

Now What?

Whether you’re creating a case for support, an annual report, or a program brochure, the odds are high you want readers to take an action. Do you want folks to give?  To volunteer?  To become advocates? If that’s the case, make sure you give them clear directions on what you want them to do and, just importantly, how they can do it! While the ‘how’ shouldn’t take up too much room in your brochure, make sure it’s a piece that’s particularly direct and simple.

Pro Tip: Always include your organization’s contact and charitable registration information. Even better, include an actual staff member’s contact info, not just a 1-800 number or an info@emailaddress (bonus points for including a headshot!). Let readers know that there’s a person on the other end of the line or keyboard who’s ready to answer their questions!

This post was written by Tracy Holmes, former Logistics Specialist at Good Works, who managed all aspects of direct marketing production.