Why is fundraising so "ugly"?
Personally, I find it hard to call activities that power so many of the world's good deeds ugly -- but I understand the question. Most effective fundraising has a clunky, out-dated, not-so-pretty look.
Some people who come to our field without experience think it's because we're just kind of clumsy and don't know how to make it nicer-looking. That's not it, at least not most of the time.
Here's a good explanation from Seth Godin, at Pretty websites:
...the worldview of people who are likely to sign up, 'like,' share, click, act and generally take action instantly is not the same worldview of people that convert into long-term, loyal customers over time.
Unattractive high-response sites aren't usually the result of a lack of taste or talent on the part of the designer, they're optimized for one worldview.
On the web or in the mail, fundraising is in that "unattractive high-response" category. I know people who spend their entire careers pounding their head against that wall, trying again and again to get response by making it "pretty."
It doesn't work. And I can't imagine how soul-crushingly frustrating it must be.