Child sponsorship is more effective with hopeful imagery

Nonprofit organizations should be using powerful, positive photographs to help share child sponsorship missions with constituents. Visuals can elevate the importance of a nonprofit's goals, better tell a story and add a sense of urgency to a cause. Inviting donors in through the art of photography helps pair faces with issues and personalizes organizations.

Why use photos to tell a story?
One way that photos can enhance a nonprofit's message is by conveying the personality of the charity to contributors. Philanthropy.com hosted a discussion between Sarah Durham, the founder of a business focused on helping nonprofits achieve their missions through visibility, and Andrea Roy, the communications director at a nonprofit aimed at assisting those with mental illnesses. These experts both asserted that being able to document the warmth and care that nonprofit staff put into their daily operations and annual fundraisers helps define the organization's character.

Photographs are also important as documentary tools for a charity's archives. Presenting visual evidence of changes made over the years is a very strong selling point when applying for grants, asking for year-end gifts and composing monthly newsletters. When a new board member is inducted or a major donor is awarded, photos should be taken to document the moment and share it with contributors.

Most importantly, however, images convey the emotions that words cannot. Photos may be able to elicit reactions in viewers that written statements or statistics do not, as more people are visually oriented. The Network for Good's Nonprofit Marketing Blog noted that pictures must be high quality in order to be effective. This has two meanings. First, the camera used should be reliable and produce crisp, focused and high resolution images. Second, a strong photograph tells a story on its own. Strategic photographers are able to capture specific, emotional moments that draw people in and make them want to know more about the subject.

What types of photos work best?
The best types of visuals feature human emotion and are able to evoke empathy or sympathy in viewers. Finding the humanity, whether directly in the face of a laughing child or in the structure of a village, is the key to telling a real story with a single image. An effective photo has great power below the surface of its contents and sticks with observers long after they see it. It's imperative to remember that photographs, while emotional, should instill a sense of hope and show potential donors that positive change is possible. Any attempt to shock constituents or shame them into donating are not going to be nearly as effective, and in fact may end up alienating an audience.

Nonprofits can also incorporate text to enhance the story. Placing individual narratives or quotes from beneficiaries on an image can add context to what people are seeing.

Where should photos be placed?
Mass Nonprofit stated that for newsletters, social media posts and email updates, using photos of board members or new facilities is appropriate. It's also a nice gesture to send copies of these images to the subjects for their personal collections or records. However, calls to action or press releases should feature pictures more directly related to the mission of the organization.

Photo essays are also terrific tools for spreading the word on specific projects or fundraising goals that need to be met by a certain time. For instance, in the wake of a natural disaster, a collection of various photographs are often used to convey the scope of the tragedy and demonstrate the need for funding, resources and assistance. Use a wide variety of subjects and range of emotions to display the many ways a donor can help. 

Successful child sponsorship relies on strong storytelling. High quality, compelling photos must be part of that process.