Dominican Friars Case Statement Part 2

Our case statement increased donor retention by six points! When a design project goes well, the end product is so polished that you can’t tell what it took to get there. Such is the case with the fundraising brochure that we created for the Dominican Friars. In this part two of four, behind-the-scenes look, find out how we planned to grab donors’ attention.

First Presentation of Mood Boards, Images Audit, and Content

The first step that I took as a designer was to do image research. I like to start by showing the client a selection of images that will set the tone for the piece. I needed to know what we had to work with since this brochure would feature large, full-bleed imagery. I also needed to know if I need to search for stock photos or illustrations.

Image Audit: The Dominicans have a plethora of beautiful images in their asset library. I chose the best pictures from thousands, but I didn’t know if we had what we needed for the brochure.

My selections from existing images

WDP Brochure Image AuditWDP Brochure Image Audit 2

Theme Images: I already knew that the Dominicans like what we were calling a “modern medieval” look—a friar in his robes with a cellphone for example. I researched and presented some vine and tree illustrations in a woodcut style for consideration. 

WDP Brochure Theme Images

While they liked the symbolism, the client decided that these illustrations were too religious. We discussed other images to go with stories that demonstrated the Dominicans’ impact. 

Content Outline: At this point there was a rough content outline consisting of section heads. I gave word counts to the client for each page. We were to go forward with dummy text.

First Design Presentation 

A couple weeks later, we presented an 8-page brochure using existing photography and “greeked text.” I also presented 9 cover options, but there wasn’t a clear winner for the cover image. The best of the bunch, was a group photo that they didn’t want to use because one of the student brothers had discerned out.

The preliminary design comp

WDP Brochure Comp Cover

WDP Brochure Comp Spread 1

WDP Brochure Comp Spread 2

WDP Brochure Comp Spread 3

The first round of cover design options

Getting to the Concerns of the Prospective Donor

Seeing a full-size printout of this initial design made it easier to discuss the content even though we were working with only headlines and subtitles. Because there wasn’t a perfect image for the cover, we discussed what we felt would be the ideal picture. The client wanted to position the donor as the hero. We knew the target prospective donor is a boomer. They see the cultural shifts moving away from traditional values. They worry seeing the younger generation moving away from Catholicism.

We brainstormed some more about what the prospective donors’ concerns were:

  • World is suffering from spiritual poverty
  • Catholic culture is dying
  • Not enough young people carrying the religion into the future
  • They want to have an impact

Art Direction Breakthrough

My partner, Leslie, came up with a concept. The most powerful imagery to address these concerns was to show young people interacting with the friars. An image like that would address all of our donors’ concerns. We talked about having young friars talking with older friars. We tossed around possible locations that would say the West.

Leslie and I very much wanted to have a photoshoot to get the photos exactly as we were imagining them. She and I had been talking about the benefits of working with a professional photographer for a long time. But our client got free photographs from staff and volunteers and understandably didn’t want to spend money on a photographer.

Yes! A Photoshoot!

We were in luck. It turns out there’s an active young adults group at St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco. So, it wasn’t too hard to persuade the client with visions of the young adults interacting with friars in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. The client decided that it would be worth the investment to hire a photographer to get the photos we needed. There would be no mistaking that this brochure was from the Western Dominican Province and none other.

Photoshoot Planning

Leslie and I had a phone call with our frequent photography partner Richard MorgensteinWe told him our goals of picking one or two iconic locations: one with the Golden Gate Bridge and one with the Palace of Fine Arts. We showed him a couple sample photos and he shared some with us. He needed to plan equipment and get an assistant for half a day. We relied on the friars to choose members of the young adults group to invite for a Sunday afternoon shoot. We made a schedule with the photographer and made a shot list.

Our Shot List:

  • Church interiors—general purpose photos from balcony
  • After service friars interacting with parishioners
  • Marina—group photos of friars interacting with members of the young adult group with iconic San Francisco scenery in background

Next Up: Part 3 Coming Soon!

Getting a Picture that Donors Can’t Resist