For your consideration...
This is, in effect, a conversation with the client. Hence the I-speaking-to you voice: casual, approving, shamelessly critical. What the Brits call "the loyal opposition." Translation: we like you, but you're doing a few things wrong.
Once someone goes deep, the reading experience ranges from good to great. I love your donor profiles. The [community foundation] writes long text well. You've solved that problem.
But we're looking at these publications through a different lens: How well do they work as marketing materials?
How well do they persuade your target audiences to act as you would wish?
Deep readers are not the main issue in marketing. Trust me: if they're reading deep, they're 90% sold; the hook is set, the hard work is done, all you have to do is reel them in, good customer service will do the rest of the job.
The real issues are two: (1) speed; and (2) relevancy.
In other words: (1) How fast can your materials get across a message that (2) might interest the target audience? Different audiences -- donors vs. professional advisors, say -- find different things interesting, of course.Topline recommendations:
- Capabilities brochure (the 3-fold) -- Revise and reprint. Use basically the same content, but add a strong browser level (benefits-rich headlines; subheads and bullets to break up the dense copy) and a reader-friendly graphic treatment. Toss the current version; its extreme reader difficulty produces a negative customer service experience.
- Annual report -- Rein in the type experimentation. Build an awesome browser level. Since the table of contents is the first item encountered, fill it full of hooks for various target audiences, as a magazine would. Use the front cover more aggressively to push your theme. I've focused on the annual report because I assume you include it in your standard information kit. That makes the AR a supplementary capabilities brochure.
- Grants newsletter -- Write real headlines. Make any interesting photos so big the reader can get lost in them. Write informative captions. Loosen up. Play some. It looks like a scholarly publication (purposefully boring). But recipients are not scholars.
- Website -- Upgrade home page in time for new ad responders. Conduct SEO.
- Ads -- Re-invent yourself. Hair must stand on end.
- Continue to associate [the community foundation] with [familiar architectural icon]. It lends enormous power. It's the instantly recognized visual equivalent of a positioning statement: "This is who we are." (If you were the Paris Community Foundation, the Eiffel Tower would serve the same purpose.)
- Sell exclusivity -- [The community foundation] should be an exclusive club anyone can get into. All that's required is a philanthropic soul and a cash stake in the game of doing something great for [the city].