Ugly Betty is Not Ugly

Ugly Betty Giving Day History Table

To most of the world, “Ugly Betty” was the name of an ABC original TV series starring America Ferrera. However, in the world of fundraising professionals, an ugly betty is an effective way to renew gifts from prior donors using a very direct, invoice-style approach. Fundraising appeals can vary in style – from creative self-mailers and postcards, to standard letters and invoice-style appeals – and they are used for various reasons.

A common misconception of an ugly betty is that it is indeed ugly. This is not the case! An ugly betty is simply an invoice-style appeal so, although it may not include many photos, there are plenty of creative elements that can be incorporated.

What’s so effective about an ugly betty? If you look at all of the mail that you get throughout the year and you see the piece of mail that looks like it may be an invoice or some sort of bill, it is often that it will be one of the first pieces that you open or set aside to open. It is an instinct to pull out the “more important” looking pieces to make sure that you don’t miss any official documents.

You might ask, “Why wouldn’t every appeal be an invoice style then?” If every appeal were an invoice style, you would reduce the effectiveness of why the concept of an ugly betty was created. Many organizations send ugly betties towards the end of their fiscal year to try to capture those prior donors that haven’t given yet.

Here are 3 components of an ugly betty to take into consideration:

  • Creative

An ugly betty at one point in time might have lived up to the name, but these invoice-style appeals most definitely do not need to be ugly. Yes, there may not be many photos on the appeal, but there are certainly different creative elements that help with the effectiveness of the piece. The simplicity of an invoice-style appeal emphasizes prior giving, lack of giving this fiscal year, and has a strong call-to-action of donating.

  • Envelope

How do you know when you get a bill in the mail? There is usually a special type of envelope. Whether it is a window envelope, or it has messaging on the envelope, it’s important to entice your donors to open your direct mail piece.

  • Data Segmentation

Organizations often have an immense amount of data. It’s important that you use it! When data and direct mail align, there are endless possibilities. Data is a critical component to an effective ugly betty. It helps with showcasing the donor’s history and know the appropriate level ask to do. For example, including a chart that shows that Donor A has given $25 in 2015, 2016, 2017, and has yet to give in 2018, it would be appropriate to include an ask that has $25 as an option as opposed to $1,000.

Interested in seeing samples of creative invoice-style appeals?

BCG Connect works with fundraising professionals to implement creative direct marketing solutions into their annual giving campaigns. By sharing new marketing and fundraising information, BCG Connect helps clients identify, acquire and retain their donors.

Have you incorporated and personalized ugly betties to optimize your annual giving direct marketing plan? Connect with us to learn more and request samples of these invoice-style appeals!


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BCG Staff Writer