« Help! My direct mail is turning into my Dad's direct mail! | Main | Charitable giving feels so good it should be illegal »

25 July 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Thank you for your interesting post. However, as you've already indicated, we need to be careful how much weight we give the study. In addition to the reasons for caution that you already cited, we need to be careful because the study does not indicate the impact on donor retention of using sad faces. For example, continual use of sad images might lead to donor burnout and attrition. It also does not address the issue of when an image becomes exploitative of the subject or manipulative of the recipient. I reported in my book ("Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing") that Save the Children used happy images of the children of Haiti who were beneficiaries of the nonprofit's services. The idea was to give the donor-public hope and to show them a way to make a positive impact. While I don't know what image testing Save the Children has done, I suspect the decision on what images to use was made very carefully. From the cheap seats where I sit, Save the Children doesn't seem to be suffering from its decision. Intuitively, I believe that we must present prospective donors with a problem. But, we must also show them a clear solution that they can participate in. In some cases, the use of sad images might accomplish that but, as Save the Children found, happy images can also be quite effective.

A DM fundraisers once asked me to help with a sad versus happy face test. The less cheery image fared slightly better although it was a small sample size. Given we did the test because someone was adamant that happy faces would always be better, it was enough to spark some internal discussion on the subject.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Subscribe with the reader of your choice
About the blogger
JeffJeff Brooks, creative director at TrueSense Marketing, has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 20 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.brooks [at] truesense [dot] com. More.

Blog policies
TrueSense logo
Instead of talking at donors, TrueSense is proving it's smarter to listen. Asking donors how they prefer to give. Because we’re about creating relationships and building trust and communicating honestly and powerfully. One to one. Want to talk fundraising? Drop me a line.
Writing for fundraisers

Words2Moneybook Admit it: Fundraising writing is weird.

So many people get thrown into the work of writing fundraising without ever being told about the weird they need to live with -- and master -- if they're going to succeed.

Until now. How to Turn Your Words into Money: The Master Fundraiser's Guide to Persuasive Writing by Jeff Brooks, is specifically and tightly aimed at helping you write better fundraising. Including things like ...
  • Specifically how to ask.
  • How to use rhyme to make your message more memorable and persuasive.
  • How to tell stories that motivate donors to give.
  • How to meet donors' emotional needs.
  • Whether you should use guilt as a motivator.
Whether you're working on your very first fundraising writing assignment or you're a seasoned veteran ... whether you want it for yourself or need to show someone else how the pros write fundraising -- or both -- this is a book you should order today.
Irresistible fundraising!
TheFundraisersGuide Raise funds with your eyes open. Skip the guesswork. Show your boss what really works. This book takes you on a fact-filled and memorable journey through writing, design, strategy, and the mental game of effective fundraising.

Proven, tested, real-life techniques that give donors what they want so they can make the donations you need. If you care about fundraising, about your donors, and about supporting your cause, you need The Fundraiser's Guide to Irresistible Communications by Jeff Brooks. Order it today from Amazon.

Branding can boost fundraising

MoneyRaisingNonprofitBrand Discover how to make branding improve your fundraising in The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving. It's easier -- and less expensive -- than you may think! If your organization is even vaguely considering "branding work," you need to read The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand by Jeff Brooks. Read more here.

Popular series

stupid nonprofit ads

Uncle Maynard's

Jeff's Inferno

Blog powered by Typepad