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#17 Do I need a happy or sad image on my banner?

For a long time I had battled with the question of whether to use happy or sad imagery on the shopping centre banners in face-to-face acquisition. There are clear purposes for each piece of material produced for F2F. Welcome Packs are designed to reduce buyers’ remorse, whilst Pitch Cards are created as a visual guide for the conversation, and Banners are to catch your attention and show need.

The feeling of buyers’ remorse can be diminished with the use of a Welcome Packs by showing how other donors have made a difference to the cause, and it will map-out the impact that you will have too. These are generally filled with smiling faces and positive images to represent the amazing work that has been done so far. This seems to be a no-brainer.

Pitch Cards will be set-out in a standard ‘Introduction – Problem – Solution – Close’ format with a mix of pictures starting with a massive logo and a photograph that sums up your brand. This will be followed by images highlighting the issues your cause is overcoming, then the work being done in the rain forest, refugee camp, hospital etc and finally positive happy smiling faces to prove that it all works alongside price-points that allow you to pick how you help.

For me, banners were never this simple. Yes, we need to show a clear need, so the sad face of an undernourished child staring helplessly into the lens, or the image of mass-deforestation, a turtle caught on a hook, or a patient wasting away will catch my eye, but it will not make me stop to chat. It will make me want to keep walking.

Face-to-face fundraising is all about finding people with matching values who are willing to listen to a story and donate long term, but these super-negative images put me off from the potentially inspirational interactions and make me want to keep moving.

Equally, an uber-positive picture will let me stop and chat because I feel as if I’m going to have an uber-positive conversation where the fundraiser is just there to thank me for recycling, buying a bear or growing a moustache rather than asking for my help, but will leave me with the impression that you don’t need my money.

So where do we draw the line?

Four years ago I came across an image on a banner that worked impeccably. It had tread the line of need versus pleased flawlessly. A well-known Australian cancer charity had a photo of a young girl who we can assume, by the shaven head, was going through chemotherapy, wearing the biggest smile.

She was perfect.

Her eyes gave me the hope that her treatment was working, yet I could not ignore the fact that she, and others like her, needed our help. Hope is a powerful emotion that our F2Fers use to inspire, so let’s put hope back on our banners, on our posters and at the forefront of our fundraising.

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