When it comes to donor communications, we often spend hours writing and creating the perfect appeal. There’s the all-too-important first sentence, the critical P.S., a powerful ask, the perfect subject line or teaser, and so much more. With all that energy going into the copy, the videos and photos included in the appeal can sometimes seem like an afterthought.
However, for your donors, photos and videos can actually be even more powerful in informing their decision to give than the words you choose to use.
So how can you make sure you are not only picking the right photos, but also using them in your fundraising communications in the best way to maximize their impact? By remembering P.H.O.T.O.
P = Plan
The more you can plan ahead when it comes to your videos and photos, the better. Having an actual photo of the person you are talking about, or the event you are referencing, makes a difference. And when those photos or videos follow the rest of the steps below, they can even help your donors experience the emotional push they need to donate.
Here are some tips to help you plan for great photos.
1. Create an “image list” for every event.
After you create your list, assign a staff member or volunteer or hire a photographer to capture those images. Similar to a wedding, write down all the photos you think would be helpful to have for social media, appeals, newsletters, etc. At the end, you will have plenty of pictures to choose from when you go to share the impact of the event.
2. Go through the stories and testimonials you have.
Work to collect a really good photo or video for each one. If getting images of real people just isn’t an option, don’t panic. You can find some great stock images online, and the tips below will help you use them well.
3. Make it a habit.
Collect images the same way you collect stories or testimonials. A little hard work up front can save you a lot of time and hassle on the back end.
H = High-res
Quality matters. Your donors are busy. If they can’t clearly see what you are trying to show them in a photo or hear clearly what you are trying to say in a video, they will simply disregard it—and often your entire appeal along with it.
To prevent this, focus on the following steps.
1. Make sure all of your images are high-res.
Nothing is worse than a grainy picture. If your photo isn’t going to print well or look clear on a screen, don’t use it. Find a different picture, even if it seems less compelling.
2. Invest in the right resources.
While having a high quality video is usually better than an iPhone or Zoom recording, when it comes down to it, video quality is far less important than what your donors will be able to hear.
So, if you need to, invest in a quality microphone the video subject can use to capture their story. Bottom line: If your donors can’t hear what you are saying in a clear and distraction-free way, they won’t watch the video—no matter how great it looks. This is true for both studio and “in the field” videos as well.
O = One
Using one person is more powerful than using a group.
While this may seem counterintuitive, studies show time and time again that focusing on the ONE instead of the MANY not only has a greater impact in your writing, but also in your images as well.
Humans are wired for connection. And it is far easier for someone to connect with one person than it is for them to feel connected to a group of people.
The tips below can help you build that one-on-one connection.
1. Eye contact is key.
Part of how we connect with others is through eye contact. While this is especially true in person, it’s also true in photos. Take the time to find the right photo where one person is looking directly at the camera—and right into your donors’ hearts.
2. Keep your video focused on the one.
Just like with your photos, when you focus the subject of the video on one person, the impact is multiplied. It’s okay if you have your CEO or spokesperson introduce the person you are highlighting, or even share someone’s story for them. But as much as possible keep the focus of the video on one person.
3. Match the mood.
Remember, your photos exist to help build your case for support. Make sure that whatever image or video you choose to use mirrors the mood or tone of your communication. If it is a hopeful communication, show someone smiling at the camera instead of frowning. If there is urgency, choose an image that shows someone representing the need in their face and eyes.
T = Tie-in
Now that you know what type of photos and videos to use and have a plan to obtain them, it’s time to tie them into your fundraising communications.
Here are four ways you can do this well.
1. Use captions.
While captions may sound outdated, the reality is people read them. They’re important for accessibility purposes, and they also help your donors understand the video without questioning who and what they are looking at.
PLUS, it’s a valuable space where you can further share the ncommeed and emotional impact of your communication. Just make sure your captions draw your reader back into the story and your appeal.
2. Tie them in with your story.
Again, nothing feels more out of place than a photo or video that doesn’t fit with the tone or story you are sharing. Remember, it’s better to not have an image than to have one that distracts from your fundraising communications.
3. Placement matters.
Make sure your photo or video is located in the right place, and that its location adds to the communication, not distracts from it. Commonly, photos are found in the header, in the body copy, or on the reply device. When it comes to video, if you mention one in your subject line, make sure you have (at minimum) a link to it near the top of your fundraising communications or in a place that’s easy for your donors to find. If you bury it in your email, people won’t spend the time to scroll through to find it, and you’ll miss a valuable opportunity to connect with your donors.
4. Use the same photo.
Use the same photo on your website’s homepage, your donation page, social media, and other channels to tie in your appeal across all the channels your donors may see. By using the same image and the same message, you can really make the most of your marketing and help a donor know they are in the right place to give.
O = Optimize
Finally, if you are using video in your fundraising communications, make sure that you are optimizing its impact.
Here’s how you can do that.
1. Personalize the video.
This is especially important for your major donors. Get your CEO or spokesperson to record several custom introductions you can use to send to different levels of donors. For your major donors, you should use their name. This is a great way to not only thank people for their support, but it also lets them know you value them and are working hard to show them the impact of their gift.
2. Mention the video up front.
If you are including a video in your communication, mention it in your subject line. Emails that mention videos in the subject line tend to perform better overall with open and clickthrough rates, so use it to your advantage. If it’s a fundraising video, more clicks means more opportunities to generate donations.
3. Choose smart messaging.
Chances are people will either read your email or watch the video. Don’t skip on the messaging in your video and assume they will see it somewhere else. Write a script for your video and make sure it mirrors the story and ask in your appeal. Don’t forget to include a link to give in the video as well.
Now that you know some of the best ways to use photos and videos in your fundraising communications, you can let them do some of the hard work of fundraising for you.
Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.