Disaster fundraising at its worst

After the earthquake in Haiti, it didn’t take long for the bad fundraising messages to crawl out of the woodwork. Here's an example of run-amok abstractionism, from the People of The United Methodist Church. I’m guessing that they had some help from an ad agency on this one. Who else could have screwed up such a simple and compelling message?

Written by
Jeff Brooks
May 14, 2013

First, you will notice the astoundingly unreadable design. It’s as if they have deliberately thought of all of the things that reduce the readability of a text: all caps, sans serif font, reverse type, typing over an image, extra-wide leading… And decided to use them all in one layout.

But the stupidity doesn’t stop there.

While most normal humans understand and interact with other humans by looking at their faces, this ad seems to think connection happens when you put your face five inches away from somebody's hands.

‘Pores, wrinkles. They'll make people feel the connection.’

Furthermore, the clever splicing of the two photos makes it seem like we’re looking at some creepy, double-ended, free-floating fingers. Are they trying to startle us into action?

Of course, the poor design isn’t the worst thing. When you actually manage to interpret the copy, it reads like a bad haiku:

Of all the things earthquakes can destroy the human spirit is not one of them.

Never before have philosophical abstractions moved people into action. I wonder why they thought it would work this time. And why have they hidden the second call to action (which actually does make sense) at the very bottom of the page? Then, when you follow their suggested URL,10thousanddoors.org, you arrive at a webpage that is about lots of things, not just the disaster in Haiti. Their message doesn’t get any clearer or more concrete in their video either.

About the author: Jeff Brooks

Jeff Brooks

Jeff Brooks has served the nonprofit community for more than 30 years, working as a writer and creative director on behalf of a variety of organisations including CARE, World Vision, Feeding America, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, National Wildlife Federation, and many more. He blogs at Future Fundraising Now and Moceanic. In previous careers, he’s been an English teacher and a classical musician. He lives in Seattle in the USA.

Recent Articles

How to fundraise from trusts and foundations when you have high reserves

What happens if your organisation has ‘too much’ money? While most charities and social enterprises don’t find themselves with high reserves often, this can pose challenges when it happens – especially if you work in trusts and foundations. Mike Zywina shares four tips for what do if your organisation has a lot of funds in reserves or finds itself in an unusual financial position.

Read more

Ten fundraising truths inspired by Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington was the first president of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). But did you know he was also a skilled fundraiser? In this article, Marina Jones shares ten fundraising truths based on Washington’s success and insight. Dive in and be inspired!

Read more

How do you say thank you for 41 million eggs?

Fundraising history, donor recognition, supporter experience and thanking. This one has it all! Dive in and explore the many virtues of this World War One (WWI) National Egg Collection campaign. There’s plenty to inspire you and your fundraising, today.

Read more

The Saltways becomes SOFII’s newest partner

We are proud to welcome The Saltways, a creative agency specialising in charity film and animations, to the SOFII community.

Read more

My 30 years as a fundraiser

Michelle Chambers started out working in fashion at Topshop. But once she took on her first role in fundraising, that was it. Michelle was a fundraiser through and through. In this inspiring article, Michelle shares some of her 30-year journey in fundraising with you. Dive in to discover her story and take a look at some important themes that have influenced and changed our profession over three decades.

Read more

Also in Categories