A lot of fundraisers make a huge mistake that they think is a favor to their donors: They soft-pedal and tone down the scope and depth of the need they exist to meet.
They're afraid it's too harsh. Too painful. Too likely to discourage donors.
In the case of poverty-fighting organizations, the dominant images are of happy, healthy, shiny-faced children. Messaging about the problem after it's already been solved.
Big mistake. And not a favor to donors at all.
The Passionate Giving blog says it well at How To Transport Your Donor Into The World's Suffering:
Rather than protecting our donors from all the reality of the need we should be using media, picture, choice of words and stories to literally take the donor right into the action -- right to the scene.
Remember, the reason a donor gives YOU the money is so you can DO what they want to do but can't. So they give you the money to do it on their behalf. That is the essence of fundraising – that's how it works. I think it's your obligation to tell things like they are.
Your donors can handle the rough stuff. They want to handle the rough stuff. Because with you as a partner, they can change it.
Want to know who complains about tough images most often?
It's non-donors. Those images painfully and undeniably demonstrate the price of their non-giving. That's unpleasant. No wonder they complain.
But donors? They don't see hopelessness, degradation and personal failure. They see an opportunity to make the world better.
That's why you owe it to your donors to be clear and unflinching about the need you face.
It's good fundraising. And it's good humanity.