Photos that hurt your fundraising

Most fundraising experts doggedly point out that photos of people are absolutely critical for successful fundraising messages.

They’re half right.

A great photo makes all the difference. It can crystallize a message and drive home its emotional core more powerfully memorably than words can.

But the wrong photo can shoot your message down, making the best copy in the world ineffective and irrelevant.

There are two things that most often make a photo hurt your fundraising message:

The photo contradicts the message

This happens all the time: The letter says “Children are going hungry … won’t you help them?” — but there’s a photo of happy, plump children. It’s a contradiction. You might as well have a banner headline that says, “Don’t Worry: It’s Already Taken Care of.”

Make sure every photo you use says the same thing that the words say.

The photo shows unsympathetic-looking people

Someone who appears to be scowling at the camera sends a hostile message to the donor. Unfortunately, this happens often, because some people, when they’re in pain or afraid, furrow their brow — which looks like a scowl. That’s not what it is, but that’s how it looks. And it’s a real turn-off for donors. Who wants to reach out to someone who seems to be hostile toward you?

If you know the person in the photo, or you’re familiar with the situation, you can easily miss problem. You’ll correctly interpret the expression of pain for what it is, not what it looks like to others. Get outside opinions of what people’s expressions appear to be.

A picture is worth a thousand words. So make sure you get the right thousand words when you use a picture.


Comments

2 responses to “Photos that hurt your fundraising”

  1. I totally agree! Check out this cute kid on a recent DM package for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada – http://twitpic.com/1zttqg
    When I was a student studying fundraising, we had a very in depth session on choosing the right picture. It is a skill often overlooked, but is absolutely vital for our profession.
    Thanks Jeff.

  2. I totally agree! Check out this cute kid on a recent DM package for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada – http://twitpic.com/1zttqg
    When I was a student studying fundraising, we had a very in depth session on choosing the right picture. It is a skill often overlooked, but is absolutely vital for our profession.
    Thanks Jeff.

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog