The Pentera Blog

Does a Picture of Your Donor Really Attract More Readers?

When you are trying to line up a donor story, sometimes the most difficult task is getting the donor's picture. Some donors seem much more willing to share intimate details of their life story than they are to share their image. So do you really need the donor's picture? Should it matter to planned giving donor prospects what the featured donor looks like (or used to look like)? Why should other donors care?

Well, maybe it shouldn't matter whether you have a picture of the featured donor ... but it does. Study after study, from old ones of newspapers and magazines to new ones of marketing content and Web sites, show that readership goes up when there are photographs and other kinds of graphics:

  • Research from the Poynter Institute on eye movement shows that readers look at photographs and headlines more than anything else on a page.
  • Research from the Nielsen Norman Group shows that Web site viewers spend "10% more time viewing portrait photos than reading biographies (of the persons in the photographs), even though the bios consumed 316% more space."

You can cater to your donors to help them feel more comfortable about providing a photograph: let them send a picture that they like, even if it is from years ago. Alumni can even use their yearbook photo.

Now that you are sold on having a photo, get on board with a caption. Captions are the third-most-viewed item on a page, after photographs and headlines, says the Poynter Institute. That's right: People typically read the photo caption before they read the first sentence of the article.

A caption, therefore, is the perfect opportunity to tell your planned gift story: "Jane Doe is extremely pleased with the payments from her life-income gift to us." Some may say that information is redundant, since it will also be stated in the story. But it's not redundant because readers are reading it for the first time in the caption! And they may never read the entire story (or any of it), so the caption and headline are your best chances to market the planned gift.

So get the photo. Write the caption. See the results.