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Boost Donor Newsletter Readership
with Great Photos

by Alan Sharpe

Your fundraising newsletter will attract more readers, raise more funds and retain more donors when you publish outstanding photographs.

Photographs are the most important images you can feature in your donor newsletter. Good photos make your newsletter pages more interesting. They help your non-profit organization communicate immediately who you are and what you do and who you help. Photos, more than other element, help you distinguish one issue of your newsletter from another.

Readers tend to look at photos first, then headlines, then photo captions, then the article. Which means your photographs must grab the attention of your readers. Hereís how to recognize a great photo when you see one (or take one).

  • The photo has people in it - People give to people to help people. So publish newsletter photos with people in them. If your article is about ending the destruction of Canadaís boreal forest, and your photo depicts a section of clearcut forest, put a volunteer in the picture, witnessing the destruction. If your article is about the 100 new beds your hospital just purchased with donated funds, donít take a photo of a bed. Take a photo of a bed with a patient in it, or a donor in it, smiling, if possible.

  • The photo has action - The best pictures tend to be action-packed. A protester is yelling outside the Japanese Embassy in Washington to save whales. A donor is running to find a cure for breast cancer. Capture action with your camera and you will capture readers with your newsletter articles.

  • The photo arouses curiosity - A photo of your executive director receiving an oversized cheque from the local Rotary Club president wonít arouse curiosity, but a yawn. Same goes for the shot of your campaign chair cutting the inaugural ribbon. Seen that. Done that. Worn the flip flop.

    Publicity expert Joan Stewart (a former newspaper editor) will tell you that journalists and editors hate those kinds of publicity photos because they are overdone. They arenít original. So borrow a tip from The Ellen DeGeneres Show. When Ellen hurt her back, she went on with her show anyway, but from a hospital bed that they wheeled onto the studio stage. She interviewed her guests from underneath a down comforter, propped up by pillows, in front of a live studio audience. Set up similar photo opportunities with your volunteers, donors and constituents and you are guaranteed to arrest the attention of your readers.

Give your readers something interesting to look at, followed by something compelling to read, and they will give you their donations.

© 2006 Alan Sharpe. Reprinted with permission.

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About the Author: Alan Sharpe is a professional fundraising letter writer, instructor, author and newsletter publisher who helps non-profit organizations raise funds, build relationships and retain loyal donors using cost-effective, compelling, creative fundraising letters. Sign up for free weekly tips like this at
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