One more about the importance of emotion in your fundraising. This week, let’s look at images, not words.
There is no faster way into our brains than an image.
As Peter Temple explains in this post, “We don’t see words as a series of letters. We see them as pictures.”
He goes on to say that our brains read words as a series of images. We’re able to quickly (milliseconds) put them together when we read. But what we’re doing to read is hard work. We’re constantly translating. (And remember your donors aren’t going to work hard to understand you.)
Images, however, are instantly and easily read. He says that “people can remember more than 2500 images with at least 90 percent accuracy for days after initial exposure.”
“people can remember more than 2500 images with at least 90 percent accuracy for days after initial exposure.”
So, yes, pictures are powerful. But how to use them?
Why? They’re not as motivating. She cites “emotional contagion” – sad images are catching. (Lisa also links to a post from Jeff Brooks with research reported in the AMA Journal of Marketing Research. The upshot? Sad faces raise more money. Read both these posts for lots of great detail and advice). Resist the urge to show only happy pictures of your work. What you’re communicating is that the problem is solved and the donor is no longer needed. That’s not what you want to say, is it?
I used to drive colleagues crazy, reminding them that our photos needed “eyes and teeth” as Tom Ahern says. Look for photos where your subject is looking directly into the camera. Eye to eye contact, even from the page or screen, is more effective.
Eye to eye contact creates a powerful emotional response.
Finally, some advice from Getty Images (they should know from images, right?). They’ve identified four factors that make an image powerful.
1. Authenticity is more important than perfection.
Think about this when you’re choosing your images. It’s more important that they be believable and feel real, even if the photo quality is a little lacking. Some grainy photos that might not even make it into your scrapbook have raised a lot of money. Because they feel real.
2. Cultural relevancy
Here, Getty cites those Cheerios ads featuring a mixed race family. Cheerios experienced quite a backlash. (So sad – it’s 2014, folks!). But for a larger segment of their audience, the ads made a powerful statement. Know what moves your donors and prospective donors. Don’t be afraid to take a stand.
You don’t just see the clay – you FEEL the clay.
3. Sensory currency
This one is interesting, because the same idea works with words as well. Getty mentions the desire for human contact. That urge draws us to images that show hands-on activities and professions. Words or images that stimulate our tactile senses translate well.
4. Classic storytelling archetypes
Archetypes are those classic characters that we see in stories over and over again. Getty mentions one that’s particularly important in fundraising – the hero. Just remember who the hero is – your donor. This is where a positive photo can work – show people doing what you want your donor to do. Frame the heroic work you’re displaying as an invitation for your reader to join in.
Remember, your donor gets to play the hero.