How to take photos that tell stories [Newsletter Tuesday]

Newsletter Tuesdays: A series about doing more with your donor newsletter.

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Great newsletters usually have great photos. Because photos tell stories, and the big story every newsletter should tell is “Good things are happening, thanks to you!”

But not all photos do the job.

You’ve seen the “firing squad” photos: Some people are lined up against a wall and “shot.” The result boring — no story, other than They made us stand here, and some of us are not comfortable with that!

Instead, make sure every photo tells the story you want to tell. The best way to do that is to…

  • Focus on people, not things.
  • Include context that adds to the story — people in their own homes, or doing the things they do or interacting with others.
  • Keep it simple and uncrowded. One person. Maybe two or three. Rarely more.
  • Give the photos space. The best photo, if it’s the size of a postage stamp, isn’t much good.

And just don’t:

  • Photo of someone behind a desk.
  • Backs of people’s heads.
  • Photos from your gala — well-dressed people standing around with champagne.
  • The giant check ceremony. It communicates to all other donors that their gift is small.

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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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