How much thought goes into the creative of an appeal? In short … a lot!

Direct mail projects are centred around compelling stories that engage readers and show why a cause matters. This is what fuels donations.

The imagery that’s used in a package is an important part of the process. Photographs are used to capture interest, help a narrative come alive, and create a connection with the donor. If you can select images that will spark interest, create curiosity or elicit reflection, you’ll be able to create connections that lead to envelopes being opened!

Here are some tips to help you pick the right photo for your next fundraising project.

1. Choose images with purpose

Images are visual cues that help us to better retrieve and remember information. Choose images that represent your cause, and also compliment the mood or tone of the appeal. Favour photographs that tell a story, convey emotion, or share an idea.

Showcasing the diversity of your population is also important. If this is not possible in one photograph, keep it in mind for a campaign, or even over multiple appeals.

2. Seek approvals

When working with images (either stock photographs or internal images) it’s always a good idea to seek approval/advice from a specialist.

Consider this scenario … a stock image is suggested for a project depicting a child in a wheelchair. The photograph is colourful, shows emotion and energy – it’s perfect for the campaign and the team loves it. A healthcare professional is looped in to review the layout and it’s pointed out that the wheelchair is too big for the child. Had the expert not reviewed the material, it would have jeopardized the organization’s credibility as an expert, and could have alienated some donor feelings.

When dealing with historical events, specialized equipment, distinct species, etc., ensure the appropriate approvals are sought. Skipping this step can have devastating results for a campaign.

3. Consider the big picture

Choose images that will work across all platforms – print, email, website and social media. The imagery should be consistent and deliver the same message to your donors in every channel for a truly integrated approach.

Once you have your preliminary images selected, go back to the campaign plan and read it again. Ask yourself if the images reflect the tone and messaging. Consistency is key and the imagery should contribute to the overarching theme.

I’ll leave you with a few images from recent Good Works appeals – which images are most appealing to you?

Looking for inspiration? Take a walk through the Good Works portfolio.


This post was written by Danielle Stevens, former Project Specialist at Good Works.