Dignity vs. Humanity
The all-important connection
For those of us with the resources, it’s our duty and our joy to help our brothers and sisters in need. The dignity movement not only diminishes and objectifies the “victims” — but also separates donors from the world they could help change.
For donors to act, they have to know there’s need. And by “know” I don’t just mean the facts and numbers. They must experience the human face of suffering — the stuff that goes straight to the heart, awakens their compassion and motivates action.
Deprive donors of the strong images and gritty information it takes to show the seriousness of the situation, and you’re eliminating the human connection that makes fundraising possible.
Not only will you fail to raise funds, you will fail to serve your donors. Donors want to give — they do so with open, joyful hearts, not grimly or grudgingly. Donors know that generosity to those in need helps make us fully human.
Don’t get me wrong: There are many images we should not use in fundraising because they’re too graphic, too repulsive, too off-point. But please: The people we seek to help are not children who need our protection. And donors are not clueless dolts who will develop stupid attitudes.
Tell the truth. Tell it with drama and precision. Don’t hide painful realities. That’s our duty to our mission — and to our donors. FS
Jeff Brooks is senior creative director at full-service direct response agency Merkle, with offices in Seattle, Washington, D.C., and London.