How to Use Powerful Images to Boost Your Online Fundraising

Marketing and Social Media

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There’s more to fundraising images than choosing a random picture to accompany your communications. A little strategy goes a long way; choose images to create an emotional journey for your donors!

Images Connect Donors to your Cause

Pictures are worth a thousand words. They help donors connect with your mission and they put a face to the problems donors want to solve. Great images help donors visualize the impact they have when they make a gift.

Use images to build an emotional journey that carries the donor through the giving process. Today’s donors are motivated by their desire to make a difference in the world. They want to donate to nonprofits that are affecting real change! If you can show them how they can join you in changing the world, you’re more likely to inspire them to get (and stay) involved.

Here are some pointers to get you started!

Create an efficient appeal

It’s important to be strategic when choosing images! Pictures are one of the first elements that donors notice. Make sure your appeal reflects the difference donors make and your mission and community. Use consistent imagery across campaigns so that your mission is clearly understood.

What types of images to use and where

Direct mail and email

Sending donation appeals through email allows you to send numerous asks with the click of a button. It’s efficient, and it’s also a great way for you to update donors and prospects about your current and future projects.

When making an appeal, use emotional or urgent imagery to connect donors to a specific problem they can solve. Compelling pictures that tug at their heartstrings is a must.

Chose an image that includes one person or a small group. Use one with your subjects looking at the camera if you can! Humans react to eyes looking at us, whether it’s on the page, the screen, or real life. This kind of image will grab donors’ attention and make them more likely to respond to your appeal.

Donation forms and remit pages

Every nonprofit has a story to tell, and it’s important to include that story in every part of the donation process.

Use a small area on your donation page to talk briefly about why your donors’ gifts are important. Accentuate that text with a great image.

In this spot, using a great emotional, hopeful image is your best bet. During this part of the process, you want donors to envision the good their gift will accomplish. This kind of imagery establishes in their mind that they can fix the “sad” problem in the appeal into a “hopeful” one with a gift!

Happy images belong on remit pages (for direct mail appeals), donation confirmation pages, and any follow-up communications.

Thank you pages

Donors should feel like heroes for their contribution. This is why your follow-up thank-you emails should use positive imagery!

You want to make the donor feel great about giving a gift. Your photo should reinforce the content of your thank-you letter. This will make the email more visually interesting, and it helps donors imagine the people they’re helping.

Example: An animal shelter made an ask for supplies, and you’re sending a thank-you to a donor who brought you some of the supplies on your list. Include a picture of animals at the shelter using the kind of supplies you received– dogs eating food, walking on leashes, etc. Donors want to know their gifts make a difference. This kind of email gives them tangible proof that their gifts make an impact. It can also help increase retention rates!


Receipts shouldn’t be boring! Use a happy image in a donor’s receipt to show them that they made a real difference in someone’s life.

Donation receipts are necessary and often boring. Sending a traditional receipt doesn’t make the donor feel any emotional connection to their contribution. The simple inclusion of a happy photo and a brief thank-you message makes a big difference.

Adding a happy image also softens the “transactional” nature of a receipt and turns it into a method of reinforcing the good feelings the donor had after donating. When donors feel good about their contribution and your mission, they stay engaged and feel valued!

Impact reports

Impact reports are a huge deal. You’re reporting back to your donors to show them how their gift made a difference. This is definitely the time to use more happy imagery!

Impact reports should show donors a positive difference, not an ongoing problem. These reports are well-received if they’re written in a donor-centric manner and include positive imagery. Use a mix of testimonials, statistics, and happy imagery to show donors what they’ve accomplished.

Example: ThinkNPC provides a great example of what good impact reporting looks like.

Social media

Social media is a huge focal point for many nonprofits. Since you’re making a variety of posts (appeals, progress reports, etc.), your social channels should include a variety of images.

Your social posts should still be aimed at connecting people to your nonprofit. Make images personal. Personal images resonate well on social media! Instead of large groups of people, show one person (or a small handful) and a short description of how a donation helped them. Connect a great story to a person with a name and a face, and your readers will be hooked.  A mix of happy and urgent/emotional images can be used on social, but be careful to not overload people with sad images. Too many negative images will drive away audiences! nobody wants constant negativity on their Facebook timeline or in their inboxes.

Use images as a way of storytelling

Images help donors visualize your mission and connect with your work. Use them well! One thing to keep in mind: keep images high-quality, but remember that large files can impact load times. Balance quality with practicality.

Your donors care deeply about your mission — show them the impact they’re making!

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