How to raise more money by using the right photos

There’s a chance your board, boss, marketing department, or someone else has prohibited fundraising for your organization.

How?

By mandating that you use only “happy” images.

Check out this post at The Agitator: Why I Hate Sugarcoating Issues. It’s a serious issue:

… brand guidelines or boards … say that only smiling happy children should be used in fundraising pieces. This makes sense for a current donor who deserves to see the fruits of their gift, but not as much for someone who hasn’t yet helped. A smiling, happy face is dissonant to potential donors. They are being told about a problem and they want to help, but the children are already happy and getting well water.

There is a very important place for those inspiring, happy images, but it’s not while you’re working to get people to give. It’s when you’re thanking them for giving.

(There are exceptions to this, but they are rare.)

If you’re serious about raising funds, you need to show people a problem they can solve. That means “sad” images that actually look like the problem. I can tell you from years of experience and testing — happy, aspirational images raise less money.

Ready to dig even deeper into what truly works in fundraising? Check out my Moceanic online course, Irresistible Communications for Great Nonprofits. It’s a four-part complete masterclass in the surprising things that work in fundraising. Details here. Get $100 OFF by using the coupon code COMMS100 at checkout! (Good until August 3.)


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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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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.

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