You’ve nailed your copy, come up with a magic teaser, and now all you need is an image that will take your campaign to new heights. Unfortunately, poor photo choice is where many campaigns fail to reach their full potential.

Whether you’re using a photo on your website, in a direct mail piece, or in an email to donors, the rules are the same. Here are four easy steps to make sure you snag the photo that’ll help your campaign really connect with your donors.

People give to people

This one is simple: if possible, make sure there’s at least one actual person in the photo you want to use. It’s much easier to stir up empathy with a photo of a person than a building or piece of equipment.

The eyes have it

Eye movement research shows that eyes and faces capture people’s attention – so the closer you can get to eyes or faces, the better. Try to have at least one person looking at the camera. You’ll draw your donors right in.

It’s all subjective

Throw out those photos of suits getting handshakes over cheques. Capture your subjects engaged in an activity or setting that helps illustrate your message – the smiles of the family as the new roof is put on their house in Mozambique, the patient receiving life-saving treatment from that new piece of equipment you’ve just been able to buy thanks to donor funds, the anguish on a farmer’s face as his livelihood has been wiped out by a flash flood.

And ensure your picture and your message complement each other – they need to tell the same story.

Get the basics right

Make sure you’re following some of the basic principles of good photography. Check that the people in your photos are well lit. Keep an eye on things in the background that could be distracting, such as background glare or lines that cut across people or project over their heads. And ensure there’s good contrast between the subjects and their background, so that photos will reproduce well in one colour.

Photos are such a great chance to show your donors the tangible impact that their support has made to your cause, or put a face to a problem you’re dealing with that requires their help.

When you include a photo that follows those basic steps above, you’re helping solidify a more meaningful connection with your donors by speaking directly to their hearts and souls. And their support for you will grow as a result!

This article originally appeared at Canadian Fundraising and Philanthropy eNews.