Images can help others visualize and remember the work we do.  And the words we use are equally important.

Think about how we all communicate with our friends and family. I receive dozens of text messages and emails every day but seldom do I receive a really poignant picture or story. When I do, I take my time reviewing the words and images and I can usually recall the storyline long after I’ve deleted the message.

At AFP Congress last week, I had the pleasure of attending Tony Elischer’s session about Stories, Emotions and Connections. Tony is so passionate about taking every opportunity to allow donors to feel the raw human emotions behind their reasons for supporting your cause.

He reminded us that our brains can recall images (and the emotions triggered by images) long after the stats and facts have been forgotten.

We’ve all heard the expression, ”A picture is worth a thousand words,” but never is that more true than when you are communicating with your donors.

Yet we continue to bombard them with text heavy newsletters, websites and reports! Tony encouraged us to think about which characters make-up our own organization’s story and how we can use images to communicate our mission and vision.

Why not create a storybook instead of an annual report? Replace statistics and bullet lists with images and think about how you can help bring to life your organization’s work.

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Ask yourself what story your pictures are telling and what emotions are being conveyed.

At Good Works, we believe that connecting with your donor’s heart and soul is the key to your fundraising success. You can do that by telling a great story, using images to convey emotion and speaking from the heart.

I trust that Tony will not mind my sharing one of the fantastic examples of how the words you use can quite literally transform your message.  The brilliant example above was produced by Purplefeather in the UK.

This blog post is part of Good Works’ 2012 AFP Congress Round-Up series.  Don’t miss it as five members of our team share insights gleaned and lessons learned from this annual fundraising event.

This post was written by Heather Brown, former Philanthropic Counsel at Good Works and fundraiser extraordinaire.