M + R has released a new guide called Direct Response Creative for Nonprofits: Theory and Practice. That rather dry name belies the very interesting content inside. It’s really all about creating communications that are effective AND consistent with your values and ethics.

Where might that NOT be the case . . . that you would create content that’s inconsistent with your values? Most likely when you are trying to raise money, and honestly, you want to raise as much as you can, so you look the other way on some dubious choices in the creative.

This comes into play most obviously in stories nonprofits choose to tell, how they tell them, and the imagery used with them, especially for fundraising purposes.

Are you taking advantage of the people whose stories you are telling, or are you considering them full partners in sharing their story, for example? What would it look like to compensate them using their story?

Are you focusing on stories that will get a reaction out of donors, even when you are doing so by stripping away some of the dignity of the person in the story? Are you reinforcing stereotypes and tropes just because you believe they will help your donors understand the need for dollars more quickly, regardless of the impact of those stereotypes and tropes?

While I encourage you to review the guide, what I really recommend you do is watch this webinar. I attended it live and found it extremely interesting and thought-provoking. You’ll hear from real communicators struggling with real issues, sharing where their organizations have made strides, and where they are still working their way through it all.

All nonprofit communicators have more work to do here — it’s not something you can check off your list, ever. But the webinar and the guide will help you frame that work so that you can make progress on it.

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