Testing images for charities

A selection of our images and stock images were tested and this is a summary of some of the outcomes:

  • People look at facial expressions, especially mouths.
  • People facing towards the camera offer better impact and being able to see their eyes to gauge emotion is useful.
  • Images with a clear purpose resonated, for example seeing someone wearing a branded T-shirt helped better connect with a fundraising ask or gave that sense of wanting to help. People wanted to be able to visually identify a charity and will look for badges and logos.
  • When showing a survivor, provide clear visual clues such as scars from surgery.
  • Don’t use shots of people wearing high-fashion (really well-dressed people) as apparently this is off-putting.
  • Don’t show images that could bring people to do the opposite of what you want, e.g. someone eating chocolate when we would want them to abstain –we’re not good at processing negatives.
  • Show images with hope, not shame – people connect emotionally.
  • Staged images weren’t well received – such as a baby dressed up in a Santa outfit. People felt manipulated. There is a fine balance between making people feel bad about themselves, against tapping into emotion to prompt people to react and donate.
  • Images showing concern makes people want to take action, but with a medical image of someone with discomfort made people turn away.
  • Natural poses and settings make people identify and comes across as warm and genuine.
  • Selfies did not read well, as people in them did not comes across as connected to cause.
  • Everyday people were more relatable – not super-fit super models.
  • Moments at the end of the race and demonstrating a sense of achievement were well received (rather than mid-race, partway through ‘the struggle’).
  • Groups of people / crowds tested well.
  • Images of babies tested better than of older children to show a sense of urgency and to prompt donations, as did black and white photography.
  • Real (recognisable) medical equipment tested better than graphics – and even more so if in use in a realistic setting such as a hospital.
  • To demonstrate ‘money making a difference’ images of researchers tested better than images of survivors as the latter give the impression of helping ‘only one person’.
  • Showing several researchers working rather than a single researcher gave the impression that more was being achieved.