How to Use Pictures in Newsletters


Some short and sweet tips on how to effectively use photos in your newsletter . . .

Let’s start with a guesstimate that only 50% of your donors actually read your newsletter (and it’s probably closer to 80%).  Let’s call those non-readers the Skimmers.  The Skimmers will glance at your newsletter but not read the articles.  The Skimmers will, however, look at the pictures.  And if the pictures are good they will read the picture captions.

That makes the pictures you choose very important.  Here’s what to do and what not to do.

The Don’t’s

  • Don’t use pictures with lots of people
  • Don’t use pictures where the people are far away from the camera
  • Don’t have pictures of Major Donors and/or Board members.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what most nonprofits do.  And they raise less money because of it.

The Do’s

  • Use a large photo on the front page.
  • Use close-up photos.  Our rule is that we want to be close enough to see their eyes and their teeth.
  • Pictures of just one person are best.  Try to never have more than three people in the photo unless there’s a very good reason.
  • Use pictures of beneficiaries, not pictures of donors or staff.

Also, every photo should have a caption.  Why?  Because most of your donors will skim your newsletter – they won’t read the whole thing.  But they will read the picture captions — which makes those captions vitally important!

Use the caption to talk about the Donor’s role in what’s happening in the picture.  For instance, for a picture of two kids at a summer camp, most nonprofits would write, “Jimmy and Jessie playing on the slide at camp.”  But a great newsletter caption might say, “Thanks to you, Jimmy and Jessie experienced the joy of Summer Camp!”

Now, go make your next newsletter more powerful by using better photos and writing better captions.  You’ll raise more money and you’ll make the world a better place.





Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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