What would you think of a fundraiser who said this:
Shame on you, donors! We're glad you give us money, but we're deeply disappointed with your motivations for giving. It stems from your ignorance and flawed character. Your motivations are frankly disgusting. Please -- get your act together.
I'd say that fundraiser needs to find work in another profession, fast!
Poverty porn has to be one of the most insidiously arrogant concepts in the history of fundraising. Think about it: They've labeled fundraising that shows that negative impact of poverty as a type of pornography -- morally repugnant imagery that titillates and preys on the weaknesses of certain people.
Let's make this clear: Those who call fundraising "poverty porn" are telling us that our donors are titillated and excited by images of suffering -- and we are pandering to their emotional pathology.
If that were true, it would be reprehensible indeed.
But it's not even close to the truth. If you know any donors, you know that they hate those tough images of poverty. But rather than whine about it, they do what they can to change the picture through charitable giving. It is a completely wholesome, empowered, and healthy response. Not a twisted, repulsive reaction like some kind of pornography addiction.
The "poverty porn" line of thinking shows a breathtaking disrespect for real-life donors.
Worse yet is the "solution": To avoid creating poverty porn, we should do ineffective fundraising. Fundraising that doesn't work because it doesn't let donors know there's a problem they could help solve.
The poverty porn line is displayed here at the White Fuse blog: Poverty Porn: Should Fundraising Override Dignity?
Images showing celebrities comforting children in the midst of disaster, or half-naked children with flies in their eyes only tell one side of the story. The voices within these communities are not heard, their perspectives are not sought, and the picture painted of them is one of need rather than dignity.
The dignity argument: Somehow, the images we show in fundraising can undermine the dignity of people.
If you’ve ever met poor and suffering people — especially those in the developing world -- dignity often is their most notable feature: deep personal dignity that simply overshadows their poverty. Your little fundraising message can't put the smallest dint in their dignity. You couldn't touch their dignity if you tried to.
The dignity is not fragile and doesn't need heroic Westerners to protect it.
But their suffering does need to be addressed, and effective fundraising can be part of the solution.
While ineffective fundraising that spends all its energy protecting dignity and avoiding the painful truths is just a big waste of money and effort.
If you're serious about raising funds, you aren't going to waste your time trying to change the way donors think. They don't need your change. There's no reason they need to be more like you. They're just fine. And you don't need to protect anyone's dignity but your own (and probably not that either).
Poverty porn is not a real thing. But poverty is. Let's spend our energy fighting the real problem, not the fake one.