Fundraising Showdown: Guilt vs. Hope

Which generates more donations – images of happy faces, or sad faces?

The research – and yes, there is research on this – suggests that sad faces work better. According to one study:

The results indicated that negative imagery which evoked guilt was more effective than positive imagery which evoked warmth, on intention to donate money and time to the animal welfare organisation.

In traditional fundraising, giving is inspired by guilt. A donor sees a problem, has an emotional reaction to it, feels compelled to give, and the guilt is alleviated with the donation.

Fundraising 101. 

Also not true in Charidy campaigns. 

In fact, the opposite is the case. Which is enormously valuable for many of the organizations who take on a Charidy campaign.

Instead of focusing on guilt, a Charidy campaign relentlessly emphasizes hope.

Take, for example, Sacred Heart Mission’s “One Heart, One Home” campaign.

The video begins with a simple statement about the pervasiveness of homelessness. And from there, it could go on to feature true and disturbing imagery of what homelessness looks like. The detrimental, and long-lasting effects it has on both individuals and communities. It could feature the heartbreaking stories of those who have found themselves homeless, and how devastating that can be.

And those are valuable stories to tell. But sometimes you also have to focus on the light.

So for this campaign, the messaging doesn’t dwell on the problem. The emphasis is on the solution. The possibility. The hope. That hope is the rallying cry.

This campaign – which, as of this writing, is in its bonus round, raising well over $1 MIL AUD – is about bringing people together around possibility, around change, around building something better.

The campaign features not only the stories of those benefiting from this work, as most traditional fundraising does, but those who have committed to being part of the solution.

As with so many other Charidy campaigns, Sacred Heart Mission’s messaging proves that you don’t need to feed into guilt to build your donor base.

In fact, taking one day to break free of that narrative and focus on the positive – focus on hope over guilt – can be a welcome change.

So rethink those sad faces. Consider how hope can rally your community instead.

Ready to focus your fundraising on the future? Reach out to a Charidy fundraising specialist today!