Why you shouldn’t take the classic “giant check” photo

You’ve seen that photo of a smiling group of people holding a check that’s the size of a beach towel, a large donation to a charity. Everyone is happy.

And you should not use this photo, says the Madlin Sudn blog, at Say no to giant cheque pictures:

Pictures … need to tell a story and be interesting enough to make you pause and read more. Posed people shaking hands over a big piece of paper (or sometimes small ones), smiling in front of a busy backdrop isn’t enough.

Step away from the giant cheque picture and make your fundraising proof more interesting. As the recipient of the money, you can say thank you and recognise the effort made in more creative ways.

I think there’s yet another reason you shouldn’t use the giant check photo: The message it sends to your other donors.

The photo celebrates the important donor who gave a large amount, showing them with a literally large check. Other donors? Small checks, small amounts, no photo at all. The photo says that literally (the large amount of the check) and symbolically (the size of the check). It’s unmistakable: You are small. Here are the donors who matter. You matter less.

It’s great to celebrate your special donors. Just do it in a way that doesn’t inadvertently send a different message to your other donors.


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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