Yes, most donors are Baby Boomers. They’re in their 60s or later. And they don’t like to be shouted at.
Are you doing that in your mail appeals? You might be if you’ve bought into the idea that the bigger the font, the better. You might think you’re being helpful to your Baby Boomer donors because of what you assume to be their poor eyesight. But they might not take it that way.
If your appeal letters look like a page out of a large-print book, consider the words of Claude Hopkins, the father of modern advertising. He said: “Some advocate large type and big headlines. Yet they do not admire salesmen who talk in loud voices.”
You see appeal letters that do look like a page out of a large-print book, with fonts that look to be 14 point or even larger. It’s the typographical equivalent of an obnoxious, back-slapping salesman – or fundraiser – who’s loud, booming voice bounces off the walls.
That’s not necessary. And it’s not effective. You don’t want to be that fundraiser. Huge type is annoying.
Hopkins goes on to explain: “People read all they care to read in 8-point type. Our magazines and newspapers are printed in that type. Folks are accustomed to it. Anything louder is like loud conversation.”
8-point type? Not so sure about that, but lots of newspapers and magazines today are printed in 10-point type. That’s about the average. And “folks” would be used to that. So there’s no real reason to go crazy big in the font for appeals.
On the other hand, don’t go to the other extreme, either. You don’t want the font to be so small that it’s like you’re whispering. That’s also annoying.
So, do what any good face-to-face salesperson or fundraiser would do. Talk in a normal voice.
A normal voice, for most appeals, would be something like 12 point Times New Roman. There are lots of other similar fonts, but Times is a good bet. It’s a serif font. That’s important. A serif font is way more readable than sans serif.
And no matter which font you use, don’t put it over graphics. Don’t put it over a color. And don’t use a reverse (with the type in white on a color background). And even though your graphic designer will want to do all those things because it seems trendy, they all hamper readability.
And readability is key. So in most cases, that means a font that’s not too big and not too small, that’s in black on a white background, and that doesn’t have to compete with a lot of extraneous graphics. For most donors, this simple approach – based on centuries of typographical history – says “read me.” And in fundraising, that translates to “donate now.”