This video is number EIGHT in a series of 16 or so on how film can support your charity fundraising. Today’s subject is deciding which stories to tell.


There’s been criticism levelled at the charity sector and at fundraising specifically around the use of negative messaging and negative imagery, and you know, quite rightly so I think. You know, we’re living in a society where negative media bombards us constantly, where it’s very easy to feel entirely impotent in the face of the scale of the problems that face us. And I think many people feel overwhelmed, actually. And I think charity has a really critical role, actually for all of us, in demonstrating that change is possible and that change on a small scale has far reaching repercussions.

When broadcast media and direct mail was in its heyday, negative messaging was absolutely prolific. It was everywhere and it’s still the accepted wisdom that at least as far as DRTV is concerned, I’m no longer dealing with direct mail so I don’t know, but at least as far as the DRTV is concerned, that need and urgency are king. And I’m sure there’s an element of truth in that because in broadcast media, while you may choose your ad break to get up and go and make a cup of tea, even to press the pause button on your remote requires a level of engagement with what’s being broadcast you have to notice the message in order to press the pause button.

However, with digital which is the way more and more media is being consumed and it’s only increasing, people already have their finger on the pause button. They are already scrolling past. It’s a split second decision to move away and look at something — look at something else. We’ve all seen — we’ve all probably blocked on our news feeds, charities that put out images that are just too distressing. You don’t want to see those every day. Itʼs too much. It hurts. It only adds to the pain and this feeling of impotence and overwhelm.

There’s been a great deal of discussion about pity porn, poverty porn, people sensationalising poverty and need for the purposes of fundraising, and while it is true that you do need to demonstrate the need for your funds, you canʼt position your cause as a fait accompli, the work is done, the world is rosy and this charity can now pack up and go home, there’s increasingly a balance to be struck between mitigating the need against positivity, against demonstrating impact, against demonstrating that that changes not only possible but achievable and immediate and can happen straightaway. And that’s an empowering message which I think people really need probably more than ever.